Split Photos Show Drastic Differences Between Developed And Underdeveloped Nations
Though regular news reports and viral stories work to keep us updated on events happening around the world, we can often feel very far-removed from tragedies occurring in other countries.
In developed nations, as many of us go about our days; working, drinking coffee or relaxing, enjoying pastimes or holidays, it can be easy to forget the horrors other people have to face every day.
We’re not necessarily ignoring, or ignorant to, the issues in developing or Least Developed Countries (LDCs), but it’s often a world away from what many of us know, truly hard to imagine what the situation is like.
Uğur Gallenkuş, an artist from Istanbul, Turkey, uses his work to help people understand exactly how drastic the difference can be between war-torn and poverty-stricken nations and the comparable luxury of life in developed countries.
He uses scenes which could be considered ‘everyday’ or ‘normal’ for some and combines them with photos taken from countries where the landscape or situation is massively different, creating a sharp contrast and presenting two very different lifestyles.
It could be holidaymakers enjoying water sports compared to migrants packed on to a boat, or thirsty people gathered around a well compared to a Starbucks cup.
29-year-old Uğur, who makes the composite images as a hobby, spoke to UNILAD about his creations, explaining he uses art as a way to raise people’s awareness and build empathy.
The artist described visual art as ‘a method which is more powerful and accessible than words written in a certain language’.
He created his first collage in 2015 following the death of Aylan Kurdi, a three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up on a beach in Turkey after his family’s boat capsized as they attempted to journey to Europe.
Warning: this image contains content viewers may find distressing:
The following year, Uğur began a series of his creations.
The images encourage viewers to realise that while many relate to the more luxurious photo, for others it’s the scenes of tragedy and pain which are familiar.
They’ll hit very differently depending on who is looking at them, but either way the photos provide an eye-opening account of ‘how the other half live’.
According to The United Nations 2018 Development Report, the top 30 developed countries include Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Ireland, Germany, Iceland, Hong Kong, Sweden, Singapore, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, the US, the UK, Finland, New Zealand, Austria, France, the Czech Republic and Estonia, among others.
LDCs include Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chad, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Haiti, Liberia, Madagascar, Nepal, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia.
Developed countries are defined as those with a developed economy and technologically advanced infrastructure, while LDCs are ‘low-income countries confronting severe structural impediments to sustainable development’, with ‘low levels of human assets’. According to the UN, they are ‘highly vulnerable to economic and environmental shocks’.
Though Uğur hopes to incite empathy through his creations, making developed nations see ‘how lucky they are to live peacefully and beautifully’, he also wants the images to impact people from underdeveloped countries.
Speaking to UNILAD, he explained:
I want to show [underdeveloped countries] they are far from peace, education, democracy, science and the arts and encourage them to question why they and their children can’t be happy.
I want to make sure they see these issues more clearly. Seeing the inequality through my work makes clear there is a problem which needs to be solved.
If you are not a pluralistic, inclusive and productive society, you are open to suffering, to war, to exploitation.
It can be harrowing to learn of the suffering faced by humanity, even for those who are far removed from the issues. Sometimes it’s easier not to think about the extent of the problems and as a result not many people go out of their way to learn about the various conflicts going on all over the world.
Though we hear about war and poverty in the news and online, it’s often only new or particularly notable stories which get told. As new events unfold, ongoing conflicts get pushed under the carpet and concern is shifted away from one issue and on to another.
Uğur works to consistently raise awareness for a range of conflicts across the globe. While he shares photos from Syria and scenes of the refugee crisis, situations which are common points of discussion nowadays, he also sheds light on other countries.
The above image shows a child solider in Libya, where a civil war has been raging since 2014 as rivals seek control of the territory and oil. According to the UN’s Children and Armed Conflict report, more than 7,000 children were drawn into frontline fighting and support roles globally in 2018.
Another image, featured below, shows a four-year-old wrapped in a blanket as she walks through a transit camp in Uganda after fleeing South Sudan. The civil war there has forced four million citizens to flee their homes since fighting began in 2013. Around 2.3 million people have escaped to neighbouring countries in search of safety, while 1.8 million are trapped inside the warring nation, Mercy Corps reports.
To create his visuals, Uğur searches through a number of images from photojournalists ‘who work under difficult circumstances and present us with events we have not [yet] seen’. In searching for content, the artist has understandably come across a lot of harrowing scenes, including images of bombings and bodies of refugees who have washed up on a beach after drowning.
One topic he finds people often react strongly to is that of children in war, ‘because children are the most innocent creatures in the world’.
The 29-year-old added:
It doesn’t matter if they are British, Turkish, Christian or Muslim. A child is a child.
Uğur shared what he believes is one of his most shocking collages; one half of which shows a child sleeping in a cosy-looking bed, while the other shows a young boy in a hospital bed, having lost part of his left arm and leg.
According to the creator, the boy was just four years old when he was taken to the Italian Red Cross hospital to be treated for a blast injury from US forces who shot from the air, killing the child’s grandfather and nine others in Fallujah, Iraq in 2004.
Take a look at the photo here:
The 29-year-old has had mixed reactions to his work, with some social media users commending him for the ‘simple but very strong’ messages portrayed, while others have argued his creations are ‘Muslim propaganda’.
Uğur believes people make these comments because his images often depict Muslims but he pointed out ‘Christians, Jews, [and] atheists can also be exposed to war and suffering’.
He added he also gets comments from Muslims who ‘blame non-Muslims’.
Speaking of the reactions he gets and his stance on his creations, Uğur said:
Looking at it from a single perspective doesn’t solve problems.
I don’t care about religion, language, political opinion. There are good people and bad people.
While he doesn’t expect his artwork to change the world, the creator believes he has been successful in raising awareness, explaining ‘only a small impact matters’.
His pieces have been displayed in schools and exhibitions across the world and he hopes to release a book of his work in future, with some of the proceeds being donated to charity.
The artist believes his work will help future generations to be more aware of the drastically different lives people lead across the world. His images allow people to see how much or little others have in comparison to themselves, allowing the hugely varying state of humanity to really hit home.
Take a look at some of Uğur’s other work on his Instagram page.
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CreditsUğur Gallenkuş/Instagram and 4 others
The United Nations 2018 Development Report
UN Children and Armed Conflict Report