Terrain - Jackie Nickerson

After a career as a magazine photographer Jackie Nickerson quit the commercial world, bought a truck and spent two and a half years travelling through Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. She photographed in the small towns and on the corporate plantations, making portraits of workers in their workplace. The result is the forging of a new visual language that creates a sense of elegance, dignity and compassion in the face of daily toil. "Farm" is a view of Africa outside the language of photojournalism and the previous depictions of the glories of tribal culture.


As in Farm, Nickerson presents landscapes alongside portraiture but unlike those of her first project, Terrain's labourers remain anonymous, each worker's face disguised by the tools or materials of their trade – from plastic crates and sheeting to jagged banana leaves. "This more sculptural structure, where the identity of the person becomes intertwined with what they are growing, is a kind of metaphor for the process of labour, and how we can’t escape the physical and psychological effects of what we engage with," Nickerson explains. The images are hugely powerful, shying away from usual methods of photojournalism and instead employing a reduced but mesmerising artistic language to raise key questions surrounding the issues of crop specialisation, subsistence farming and food security.


Images c/o Jackie Nickerson