For two months Ally lived on the Arctic tundra with Lena, Lyonya, their daughter Christina, and their three dogs, following the family’s daily rhythms as they prepared for their annual winter migration. Despite the months of planning, fundraising and preparation that took place in order to make this expedition happen, nothing could have prepared her for what was to unfold during the stay with the Khudi family. Living in one of the harshest environments on the planet, at the mercy of weather patterns that dictate the daily life and survival of the Nenets and their reindeer, Ally came to understand the true meaning of adaptation.
New Path opens a window onto Nenets life today, highlighting the adjustments they have made to modern life, and the challenges they now face in the light of expanding resource extraction in the Arctic, globalization, and climate change. This book represents one expedition among many Alegra Ally has undertaken as part of a larger initiative called The Wild Born Project. Since 2011 she has used ethical photography and ethnography to document the traditional practices and beliefs underlying the major life events of indigenous women. From early rites of passage, through to pregnancy, birth and postpartum rituals, this world of women’s experience and wisdom has been the inspiration and foundation for her work as an anthropologist and documentary photographer. It is her intention, through these expeditions, to create awareness and appreciation for traditional knowledge and practices, and to contribute to the revitalization of traditional ways of life for future generations to come.
With each expedition, Ally’s aim has been to meet with a woman who is pregnant, and who will give birth during her stay. Finding Lena, a nomadic Nenets woman who was close to giving birth, was a challenge, and until Ally arrived, she did not know exactly how far along Lena would be in her pregnancy. The journey with Lena and her family took many unexpected turns. Lena did give birth while Ally was with the family during an extremely challenging season where winter migration did not go as planned. The birth saga came to be emblematic of the Nenets’ struggle to keep their cultural heritage and highly adapted way of life intact in this modern age. Through offering a rare glimpse into a way of life that exists on a rapidly changing landscape, Ally hopes to provide an understanding of the inherent changes that both enrich and threaten the Nenets collective identity as nomadic reindeer herders.
Design: Victor Levie, Levievandermeer
ISBN 978 90 5330 927 8
Format: 21.5 x 24.5 cm
Hardback with half dust jacket
144 pages with approx. 115 photos in full colour