• LE BOUR Sidney Léa

Sulfur miners & instagramers

The mine of Kawah Ijen, in Indonesia, is known for its dantean working conditions and its amazing beauty.
A turquoise blue acid lake is on the border of the yellow gold mining site. The crater steep and chiselled slopes stand like fortifications around this exceptional place. Everything would be idyllic if a toxic gas were not part of the equation. Sulphur clouds in which miners work are extremely dangerous for health.
On their shoulders, they slowly walk back two wicker baskets with 80 kilos of sulphur and sell the fruit of his labour 6 cents the kilo. Once processed, sulphur is sold again to make cosmetics, matches, fertilizers, insecticides and also to refine sugar.
Despite its hostile environment, the instagram splendour of the volcano has made it a favourite of bloggers in recent years. What is better than a little selfie with a gas mask to make the buzz and get a maximum of likes? To become aware of its success, we just have to look at the numbers. In 2018, 175,000 people climbed the crater against 25,000 in 2013.
The miners having fully understood the interest of this new vein. Equipped with trolleys, which they normally use to bring sulphur, they propose to convoy lazy tourists to the summit in exchange for a nice sum. On the ridge, gas masks renters flog their crap for a few euros to unsuspecting tourists. Other miners make extra by selling souvenirs.
A turtle of a few grams will earn up to 50 000, the equivalent of 50 kilos carried to the top of the crater.
The juicy business does not stop there. Regularly assaulted by a horde of tourists with camera, miners have learned how to trade their image. They willingly accept to pose with tourists, but, they do not forget to remind them of the rule: «Photo photo. Money money.» The contrast between those sulphur miners and those Instagram and other social media addicts is striking.

LE BOUR Sidney Léa

Born in 1990 in Paris. Lives in Nantes.
After graduating in Architecture, she then attended classes at the photography school Louis Lumière until 2014. Within a few years, her wanderings lead her to the four corners of the world with an insatiable passion and curiosity.
Hitchhiking across the Eurasian continent. Winter photo-reportage in Siberia. She photographs people from all over the world and quickly collaborates with french and international press agencies.
Surprise is the engine of her photographic creation and a key element in the choice of her projects. The unusual attracts her and she takes pictures by intending to show what astonishes and fascinates her. Each series that she produces pushes further her material and colour exploration.
She is represented by the agency Hans Lucas and the gallery Hegoa.