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Stephan Gladieu, 42, is based in Paris, France. He studied journalism in Paris, having chosen his career following a journey to Romania aged 20, in 1989, when the country was still behind the Iron Curtain, suffocating under the Ceausescu regime. Stephan wanted to document the situation and help the people of Romania. His images of the systematic destruction of traditional Romanian villages were distributed around the world, and used for a UN conference.
Stephan decided to focus his work on documenting the lives of populations around the world who are living in pain and conflict. He travelled to the mountains of Nagorno-Karabakh in Armenia, the high plateaus of the Maghreb and Middle East, the regions of Europe suffering ethnic atrocities, and Afghanistan. Indeed set up a base in Kabul, returning regularly over a period of 10 years during the civil war to document the country. The work he produced was brought together in a book simply titled ‘Afghans’, with a preface by current Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Despite frustration at the media sometimes not being able or willing to publish imagery that shows some of the worst levels of despair and death that Stephan was witnessing on his travels, he persisted and was driven to continue documenting these aspects of the dark side of humanity.
Through his in-depth features, portraits, and words, he has told the stories of people that he has met on his journeys, including princes and princesses of Saudi Arabia and Nepal, battered women from the Native American reservations of North Dakota, prostitutes in Nevada, widows in India, Mai Mai resistance fighters in the Democratic Republic of Congo, dam builders on China’s Yangtze River, victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the often-forgotten Algerian Harki community around France (which became a book and exhibition at the Invalides in Paris), but also actors and directors in the corridors of the Cannes Film Festival, tennis players at Roland Garros, writers, chefs, astronauts, political figures (including French President Nicolas Sarkozy), WWI veterans...
More recently, Stephan has been concentrating more on sociological stories and themes, inspired by some of the work that Robert Frank and Doisneau were able to do in their time. Currently, as part of this, he is producing work relating to sexuality in the USA, looking at how extravagance and Puritanism often cohabit side by side within communities.
He is also documenting new means of cultural expression in the Seine-Saint-Denis area near Paris, with a gallery, focussing on graffiti artists, rappers, break-dancers, which mainstream media there have seemingly not given much credence to.
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