The concept of confluence, meaning the merging of two rivers runs deep through Christopher Rimmer’s new body of work. Born from the Kunene River, these photographs capture some of the last remaining tribes in Namibia and Southern Angola, charting not only the meeting of life and water, but of new and old worlds.
Among the tribes represented are semi-nomadic pastoralists, the Ovahimba people. In an accessible region, these striking, ancient people have become a popular tourist destination. This frequent contact with Western tourists however, has had ambivalent effects.
Alongside his guide and assistant Owen Kataparo (an Ovahimba man), Rimmer spent two years exploring this phenomena. For him, Western tourists may be well-intentioned, but they have a twinge of patronisation. With the aim of ‘improving their lives’, the West’s industry of aid can propel once isolated communities into disorientating environments, the results of which, Kataparo warns can be devastating.
Do not mistake however, there is no pity here. Instead ‘Confluence – Tradition & Modernity and the Last Tribes of the Kunene River’ pulsates with pride. It captures noble peoples in negotiation with their identity. These moving works are as much a celebration of culture as they are preservations of the present, as Rimmer reflects that these people “will be unrecognisable in fifty years”. But this is nothing new - the Ovahimba tribes and others like it, have never been static. Instead, like the river they border, they are in constant movement, giving life to the world around.
To see the full collection, click here.