Show opens Saturday at Known Gallery in Los Angeles
Rebels, Communists, CIA agents, and the legacy of a never ending “Secret War” all played their part in KC Ortiz’s photo reportage on the remaining Hmong in the jungles of Laos, which opens at Known Gallery on May 22nd.
For three weeks in December 2009 and January 2010, Ortiz lived with the jungle Hmong in order to document their plight and living conditions. Over a year of planning, secret meetings, and a clandestine entry into Laos brought him to the Hmong rebels and a world unseen by outsiders.
Ortiz’s photos document the remaining Hmong in the mountainous jungles of Laos. The Hmong live a life constantly on the run from the Laos Peoples Army (LPA) and Vietnamese forces, systematically targeted for having served for the CIA during the Vietnam War. During that time they went where no American or ally could be, behind enemy lines in Laos, in what is referred to as the “Secret War”. Their missions varied from rescuing downed American pilots to fighting off the North Vietnamese soldiers. Recognized as some of the world’s greatest guerilla fighters, they served their American bosses, the CIA, with bravery and honor.
Unfortunately for the Hmong, changing political climates caused the US to pull out of the region, leaving them behind in an extremely hostile environment. Since that day, the Hmong have continued to fight for their survival against incredible odds. Thirty five years after the fall of Saigon, the Hmong still remain fighting the remnants of that long ago war, and live a life far forgotten by most in the world. Ortiz’s work also invariably explores American foreign policy and questions the role and potential outcome of current allies in America’s modern war fronts. Will history repeat itself? Will the United States abandon her current allies? Will others be left to the same doom the Hmong have faced?
The Hmong’s struggle, desperation, daily lives, and ongoing fight were captured by Ortiz and will be shown under the title “Forced Rebellion” at Known Gallery. Ortiz’s photos from his time in the jungle of Laos have been published in numerous international publications, including The Independent and A-Magasinet.
KC Ortiz is a photojournalist based out of his hometown, Chicago. His work focuses on under-reported issues and over looked people and has taken him to all corners of the globe in pursuit of his work.