From the time she was a child, Susan Turner has enjoyed being with people different from her. It thus strikes her as perfectly natural that she spent most of the period from 1982 to 2009 living and photographing in Papua New Guinea, a large, distant country with more than 800 languages. Her personal endeavor during this time was to record, in the most honest and beautiful way she could, the daily and ritual life of this beautiful, diverse, and fascinating place.
Ms. Turner was inspired by participating in the lives the local people—tending gardens, fishing, caring for children, helping to settle disputes, and contributing to bridewealth payments and mortuary feasts. She lived in villages for long periods, returning to some year after year, and was adopted into several cultural groups. This close relationship to the people was always satisfying to her, as well as the only way to photograph as a member of the group, rather than as a casual observer.
Susan says of her experience, “Whatever depth and significance my pictures may have is largely due to the patience and generosity of friends and adopted relatives, who graciously accepted me into their lives.”
Albert Camus said that writers are obligated to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. Susan believes this is true for all artists, and in particular for the photographers who work among people with few, if any, means of expressing themselves to the outside world.