I took this photo just shortly after a family friend was killed in a domestic violence assault. Our blood has run at your hands. The blood of women has quenched the thirst of the soils of our land under your hands, under the hands of those who came. But blood has always run from me. The blood of life. The blood that gives life to our children, our future, our culture. It has flown like the waterfall… out of our control, unstoppably, eternally.”
Because Ni-Vanuatu women and Ni-Vanuatu femininity itself will not ever be destroyed until Ni-Vanuatu is destroyed completely.
Men’s violence in Vanuatu is so often justified by Western influence. At once, (Western) Christianity ports some blame for further domesticating women, further stipulating gendered roles. At the same time, Christianity is seen as the foundation of independent Vanuatu — principles to be respected as pillars of independence against the onslaught of the West which threatens to extinguish and suffocate Ni-Vanuatu culture (into\ which Christianity is curiously, mistakenly, inseparably tangled).
The discourse of women’s rights, on the other hand is mistakenly and inseparably tangled with Western dominance. Feeling like capitalism, colonialism, the West has stolen everything from them, for men in Vanuatu, now the West seeks to corrupt this last pillar — their women, the foundations for their families, of their culture. (and women are so often around the world burdened to carry the symbols of culture in their dress and their practice).
But as men wrestles against this onslaught with war on women’s power, their struggle is misguided against the very thing they seek to protect. Their culture, their land, their heritage, their future, their identity.
This photo was so powerful for me — the running of the red fabric like blood, like the waterfall. The waterfall is so powerful, so impossible to fight against. And the woman is so at peace — already a spirit, already tied so deeply to nature. Not even standing in power against attach because the attack is simply nothing against the nature, immortality, naturalness of blood, of life, of motherhood, of those rocks….
The name, Blood of Life, also hints at Christ and Christianity, redemption, defeating death, transcendence to love, ceasing to retaliate, faith.