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Twenty-first-century slavery

Ludmila Ketslakh | Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Loading dock at Port Saeed. 12 hour day for the Bangladeshi laborers.

The idea that Dubai is an oasis of prosperity on the Arabian Peninsula is one of the greatest misrepresentations of reality. Yes, it has Starbucks and Gucci, the tallest building in the world, and the largest mall in the world. But beneath these splendors, there is a dictatorship built by slaves. If you really open your eyes, you will realize the truth.

The people who really built the city are immigrants. They are toiling all day at the top of the tallest buildings, building malls and roads, working at the fish and meat markets, working at restaurants and hotels, and working as nannies. Emirates created a flawless system of exploitation, matchless to any other establishment in the world. They completely control and preserve their establishment. Emirates just observe and steer the system, and they don’t exert themselves.

People become migrants because of certain conditions at home: wars, poverty, and inability to find work.In this situation, for millions of people around the world, even these “slavery” conditions are the only way to earn a living.

Formally a Mechanical engineer, I became a photographer in 2001. I graduated from Belarusian Polytechnic Institute with Master Degree in Thermodynamics. Currently I am completing the degree in Photography Technology at WCC in Ann Arbor. During the last fourteen years I have attended numerous workshops at Santa Fe, Maine and TWP photographic workshops. I had chance to met and study with outstanding teachers, they are the most influential photographers of our time who changed the way I look at the world. The list includes: Sam Abell, Antonin Krotochvil, Eugene Richards, Alex Majoli, Andrea Modica, Miguel Gandert, Paul Elledge Sam Abell and Leasha Overturf. I have participated in many exhibition around the country, my work was featured in Black & White magazine, December 2015, #112, also I was Black & White 2013 Spotlight Award winner and selected as the Best of ASMP 2013.

2015 Black & White magazine featured my work in December 2015 issue, #112, Chernobyl revisited, 10 pages Transforming Community. Group exhibition. Westbeth Gallery, New York, NY

2014 Black & White Magazine | 2013 Spotlight Award Winner Feature article and portfolio in Black & White, October 2014 issue #105

Water. Group exhibition. Robert Morris Gallery, Chicago, IL


Revelations. Group exhibition. Riverside Art Center, Ypsilanti, MI


A Matter of Taste. Group exhibition. Michigan Women’s Historical Center & Hall of Fame.

2013 Winner of the Best of ASMP 2013. The ASMP interview is on the ASMP Web site at this link: http://asmp.org/ best-2013-ketslakh

People of My World. Solo exhibition. Florissant Valley Art Gallery, St. Louis, MO

2012 APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Photography Expedition to the Philippines
XXI. My Pacific Ocean project. Selected by RIANOVOSTI, the Russian news and information agency, as one of 21 photographers chronicling life and work in 21 countries.

XXI. My Pacific Ocean. Group exhibition. Economic Summit, Vladivostok, Primorsky Krai, Russia XXI. XXL. My Pacific Ocean. Group exhibition. Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. Russia


The book XXI. My Pacific Ocean was published alongsite with the exhibition.

2011 ZOOM. Russians Everywhere. Feature article and portfolio.

Mirror Image: Women & Photography. Group exhibition. Florissant Valley Art Gallery, St. Louis, MO Themis. Group exhibition. St. Louis, University Museum of Art, St. Louis, MO


Chernobyl 25 Years After. Portfolio selection. FotoFest 2012 Biennial, Houston, TX

2010 Group exhibition. JCC, Ann Arbor, MI
2009 Sacred Journeys by Rebecca Hint. Photograph featured in publication. Solo exhibition at University of Michigan Hospital, Taubman Center

2009 FOCOS (Foundation of Orthopedic and Complex Spine) book publication featuring expedition images of medical professionals working with Ghana patients suffering from bone disorders. http://www.blurb.com/b/ 1188494-high-spirit-ghana

2008 Exhibition and fundraising campaign for non-profit organization FOCOS. Detroit, MI 2007 Group exhibition. JCC, Ann Arbor, MI


Photography expedition to Ghana to promote the work of NGO organization Ortho-FOCOS .

I think of myself as an explorer out to discover life while trying to record and understand the essence of human character. I am a documentary photographer addressing social issues that concern me.

Formally a Mechanical Engineer, I became a photographer because of my desire to explore different worlds, to seek and document unique cultures, and to advocate against the dilution of those cultures into a dangerous and dull societal uniformity. My aspiration—to share the stories of the people I meet—is based upon my deep belief that the world is a beautiful and mystifying place, and that the people who inhabit it are enigmatic and fascinating creatures, each with their own unique experience.

E-mail: lketslakh@comcast.net

Web: www.ludaketslakh.com

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