Monika Bulaj is an artist and an activist who shares the suffering and the beauty of the people she meets on her courageous pilgrimages of discovery. Her homeland is Poland, and she lives in Italy. But for 20 years she has travelled on foot, by horse, by yak, by truck, and by hitch-hiking through the frequently war-torn countries of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, hearing the prayers and eating the bread of the people. Her only protection is the surprise of the soldiers when she crosses their borders, and her only weapons are her journal, and her Leika camera.
“My aim is to give a voice to the silent people, to show the hidden lights behind the curtain of the great game, the small worlds ignored by the media and the prophets of global conflict” states Monika about her work—which is to take stunning photographs from her journeys and create what she calls “reportages,” photo essays that take you right into the heart of the places she has visited. Monika says that her favorite way to share the stories of the people she meets is “to use what is a kind of photography and literary report. I have the privilege to narrate in two modes: both with photography and with writing. They help each other a lot. I love to mix them, and I think it is very important to do so. It can be very helpful to understand the reality of the situation.”
Her artistic ability as a photographer would be enough to bring her fame. She captures the heart and the mind with her presentations while she also painstakingly exposes the real life stories of our brothers and sisters who are usually left in the shadows or misrepresented.
Paolo Rumiz, of La Repubblica has this to say about Monika Bulaj: In order to investigate the vibrations in the semidarkness, this Pole, daughter of the Great Cold, manages to enter as furtive as a weasel in the most internal places, without making a noise, soft-footed. She enters bridal chambers, stables, homes. She is a perfect “burglar”. But here’s the extraordinary fact: people “robbed” by her accept Monika without hesitation, welcome her, trust her, give hospitality to her, and reciprocate her interest with their respect. For this purpose it’s enough her slight smile that says thank you and sorry at the same time, before getting wider and opening into a huge smile of curiosity even when she meets the last of the least, in the furthest village.
Beyond the pure beauty of her pictures her pursuit for pictorial beauty, even in hellish places inhabited by dispossessed and desperate people, is extremely distant from the trends of the tabloids of these days. Her prompt approach impresses you. It does not matter where this may happen: it happens everywhere, all the time. Iranian and Sudanese welcome her. Pale Byelorussians and bronze Bengali.Ultra-orthodox Jews of Israel and mystic Moroccans of Islam. Turks of the plateaus beyond the River Tigris and Albanians of the wild mountains. Pannonians of the great rivers and Tuareg of the desert in the remote lands of Libya.
In Monika Bulaj’s pictures mellow yellow dominates, along with the warm color of candles. The same primeval fire enlightens Christians, Jews, Muslims, and in that golden-yellow the three monotheisms reveal all their impressive similarities. Genuflections, whispering, reading of venerable texts, litanies, rosaries. Through this exceptional reportage, the three faiths disclose to be living in the same space.
Monika has written many books and photo/literary reports about her journeys, which can be viewed on her website at www.monikabulaj.com. Among these are two particularly memorable and heart- and mind-opening reportages. One is titled “Children of the World” which reveals the suffering and the beauty of children all over the globe. http://www.monikabulaj.com/reportages/children_en.pdf The other is titled “The Other Afghanistan” and shows us the real people the rest of the world is “pretending to protect.” http://www.monikabulaj.com/reportages/afghanistan_en.pdf When asked why she chooses to do her work in these places, Monika replies that “I use conflict zones not because of the conflict itself—I’m not interested in wars. I hate war. I go because I want to learn about the people behind the scenes of war we see in the media. I want to share their life and see with their eyes what is happening around them. I try to narrate it in my reports and my books. I also go because we in the rest of the world are really victims of the stereotypes, of the propaganda we see in the news.”
Monika Bulaj is a TED fellow on TED talks. There you can view her talk titled “The Hidden Lights of Afghanistan” that is a stark and shockingly beautiful presentation. During this talk she shows the gleam of joy in the eyes of young girls in the largest school in Afghanistan, where 13,000 girls risk their lives to be educated in underground rooms full of scorpions, and many other beautiful photos and stories of the reality of living today in Afghanistan. This can be viewed here.
We of Global Community Communications Alliance recognize Monika Bulaj as a change agent and an essential member of the global family taking positive action in the face of such dire circumstances, working towards tearing down and moving beyond the fallen system. Global Community Communications Alliance encourages everyone world-wide to cease being complicit members of a fallen system and join the SPIRITUALUTION ℠—Justice to the People.