The People of Pingelap
Pingelap is a small island in the Pacific Ocean, a part of the Federate States of Micronesia. About 240 people live on this atoll. Ten per cent of them have a genetic form of colour blindness, achromatopsia, meaning their sight is extremely diffused and their eyes very sensitive to light. This disease is locally known as “Maskun”, which in Pingelapese language means “to not see”.
In his book, The Island of the Colorblind, Oliver Sacks, author and neurologist, describes the life of the inhabitants of Pingelap. His interest is based on the question, if, because of the multitude of people with Maksun in Pingelap, there is an independent culture of colour blind people. This book inspired me to travel to Pingelap and create a photographic series as a study in the perception of people with Maskun. I discovered that in everyday life people with Maksun are hardly distinguishable from those without – only the constant blinking of the eyes in the bright sunshine reveals any difference. With my camera I wanted to somehow visualise how the island was percieved by its inhabitants and come to terms with those who are living with Maksun.