The Philippines has a long history of small-scale gold mining, with the Ibaloy and Kankana-ey tribes as traditional miners. Mining enhanced a persons prestige and was part of the indigenous socio-political system that benefited the community. In 1995, the Philippine government granted 100% ownership of mining investments to foreign owned companies. With mining concessions came land rights that led to the displacement of the indigenous people. Entire mountains have disappeared, river systems polluted, rights to ancestral land ignored and mining sites left abandoned. These areas in Itogon are dystopic landscapes, shaped by our own desires and needs. Still it continues to be a source of livelihood for the community that continue to live and work in the area, scavenging off the remains, squatters on their own land.
RJ Fernandez's work explores the line between fine art and documentary photography, between truth and fiction. She lived between the Philippines and San Francisco where she worked as a darkroom technician before moving to the UK to pursue further studies at the Arts Institute at Bournemouth. She works as an exhibiting artist and freelance photographer between London and Manila.