In the Fight: Humanity and Tribal Conflict | Head On Photo Festival

In the Fight: Humanity and Tribal Conflict

Reuben Tabel, Jessie Boylan and Caitlin Welch

Gaffa Gallery

Exhibition Dates:

09 May 2019 to 20 May 2019

Exhibition Description

"No one escapes the impact of tribal fighting in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Layered mountain peaks hide remote valleys inaccessible by road. Here you will find communities that look for peace but live with the scars of conflict.

People are as resilient as they are friendly. They smile and wave but carry bush knives or guns to protect themselves. Flatbeds of charcoal and ash among red soil and lush greenery reveal where homes once stood, before falling victim to violence. Alongside roads, women will hold their unopened umbrellas high – a symbol of mourning. Graves in prominent places are reminders that someone was killed on this land and compensation must be paid, or revenge served.

In the highlands of Papua New Guinea, where conflict has traditionally been used to resolve disputes, change occurs slowly. To minimise the humanitarian impact, communities are working together and with organisations like the International Committee of the Red Cross. Peace must grow from the ground up, as communities draw strength from shared humanity.

A 28-year-old man who was a tribal fighter for 12 years goes back to school to encourage others to turn towards books rather than violence. A principal whose school was burned down set up classrooms for more than 100 students beneath a tree before the community helped raise money to rebuild it. Some nurses run through the fights, giving medical assistance to both sides. Elders teach that when a single person is hurt, the whole community feels the pain.

In the Fight: Humanity and Tribal Conflicts a collaboration between these communities and the International Committee of the Red Cross. It aims to better understand how highland communities help each other and to highlight how the humanitarian fallout of conflict leaves no one unscathed."

Opening night drinks at Gaffa Gallery
Thursday 9th May
6pm - 8pm
Ahmad Basel Z R Hallak, ICRC Head of Mission in Papua New Guinea
Simon Du, ICRC Protection Field Officer in Papua New Guinea

Artist talk at the Festival Hub, Paddington Town Hall, 249 Oxford St
Friday 10th May

Exhibition floor talk at Gaffa Gallery

Humanity and tribal conflict in the highlands of Papua New Guinea
Saturday 11th May
12pm - 1.30pm
Ahmad Basel Z R Hallak, ICRC Head of Mission in Papua New Guinea
Simon Du, ICRC Resident Protection Field Officer in Papua New Guinea.
Caitlin Welch, ICRC Communication Officer and exhibiting artist

Artist Bio

Jessie Boylan is an artist based on Dja Dja Wurrung country in Central Victoria, Australia. Spanning a documentary-based practice, Boylan is interested in collaborative praxes, modes of effect and disruption and uses photography, video and sound to explore environmental, social and psychological disturbances and upheaval. She is a member of Lumina, an Australian women’s photography collective, the Atomic Photographers Guild, an international group who aim to render visible all aspects of the nuclear age, and the Nuclear Futures/Alphaville Community Arts Project.

Reuben Tabel is a Communication Field Officer at the ICRC office in Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea. Introduced to humanitarian photographotography through his work at the ICRC, Reuben records all of the ICRC activities that are run in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea, always working to make his viewers feel as though they are standing right next to the subjects in the images.

Caitlin Welch is a Communications Officer for the ICRC Regional Delegation in the Pacific. In her current position, Caitlin trains communications staff throughout the region on audiovisual production and humanitarian storytelling and produces multimedia content for the ICRC, targeted to different audiences in the Asia-Pacific.

After graduating from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Visual Arts, Caitlin worked as a photographic technician at the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies. She then went on to work as a consultant for humanitarian organisations including Mercy Corps, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, American Institutes for Research and Amnesty Australia. Her respect for human resilience led her to independently volunteer with refugees in Indonesia, orphanages in Tajikistan and subsistence communities in Zambia. Through community consultation, she provided quick response humanitarian assistance, capacity building through workshops, fundraising events, community engagement and living assistance activities.

Before taking up her role with the ICRC she directed participatory storytelling projects with mental health organisations in the ACT.


Artist(s) Social Media

Exhibition Space

Dates and Times

09 May 2019 to 20 May 2019
Artist Talk: 
Sat 11 May 2019, 12:00PM

Open Hours

Opening Hours: 
Monday - Friday:
10:00 am-6:00 pm
10:00 am-5:00 pm