Before They Pass Away
Preserving Cultural Heritage in an Era of Globalization
The photographer Jimmy Nelson travelled for three-and-a-half years around the world to document the vanishing cultures of the world. Nelson photographed 35 populations with no intention to adapt to the modern world and spent up to two weeks with each population in order to capture the 'true image' of their culture. Nelson was familiarized with traditional rituals and customs, documenting these through photography. His photographs show unique hairstyles, jewellery, and clothing in front of astonishing surroundings. Nelson's idea was to show the 'purity of humanity' and to capture diminishing cultures before they pass away. He wanted: "to create an ambitious aesthetic photographic document that would stand the test of time. A body of work that would be an irreplaceable ethnographic record of a fast disappearing world." 'Before they pass away' is a perfect example of Cultural Diplomacy in practice through the medium of art. The photographs show the necessity of preserving cultural heritage in a time of globalization. Its focus on showing different ways of life and making people aware of existing cultures around the world is of paramount importance.