'Decade of Change' Photography Award Winners Spotlight Environmental Issues in Touring Exhibition

  • April 28, 2021 14:12

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© Ciril Jazbec, The Ice Stupas. One way to fight climate change: Make your own glaciers. As snows dwindle and glaciers recede, people in the mountains of northern India are building huge ice cones called Ice Stupas that provide water into summer.
© Hermann Bredehorst, FridaysForFuture climate protest Berlin. On July 19, 2019, Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg (center) attends a "Fridays for Future" protest, claiming urgent measures need to be taken to combat climate change.
© Javier Clemente Martinez, Sumaj Orck'o ("Beautiful Hill"). Potosí, since 1545. The Potosi mines were first plundered and exploited by the Spanish Empire, which began 475 years ago... mining more silver than any other place in the world, at the cost of the forced labor of indigenous slaves and countless corpses throughout the centuries.
© Natalia Poniatowska, Conservation status: Vulnerable (part of Humanature project, 2018, edition of 7 + 1AP). Taken at Copenhagen Zoo.
Decade of Change Series Winner, Vijay Jodha. Rajitha with photo of her deceased husband D. Ramesh – a tenant farmer who was unable to repay a loan of $3295 and committed suicide, in India. Climate change has added to problems of agriculture in India, impacting productivity and increasing uncertainty, thus making farming nonviable for many.
© Mateo Ruiz Gonzalez, Polluted Sacred Air. The Navajo Nation suffers from a legacy of environmental pollution from historical uranium mining activities, resulting in adverse public health outcomes and continuous exposure to the indigenous population.
© Slater King, Lady sorting plastic bags. People produce 1.3 billion tons of rubbish each year, but only 9% of plastic rubbish is recycled while the need to recycle will only become greater. The human cost of this, particularly in the developing world, is very high - people work very long hours in dangerous and often poisonous conditions.
© Yuyang Liu, Men in a Pond. Guangzhou, China. 2015. Two men were fishing in the pond of Xian Village which is in the center of Guangzhou city. There was a conflict between locals and real estate developers for more than 7 years because of the uneven compensation and the corruption of Xian village leaders. Xian village is an epitome of China's urbanization.

1854 & British Journal of Photography have announced the winners of the inaugural Decade of Change award

From the creators of Portrait of Humanity and Portrait of Britain, two of the most viewed photographic exhibitions in history, Decade of Change is a new environmental photography award conceived to harness the universal power of art and imagery to galvanise climate action.

Two series, 40 single images and one moving image – which together span stories across the globe – have been named this year’s winners by a jury of leading figures in politics, activism, science and the arts. From farmer suicide in India to indigenous conceptions of nature in Ecuador, wildfires in the American West to water stress in South Africa, the rich and urgent curation of work constitutes a masterful exploration of the climate crisis in all its many facets. 

Decade of Change is set to culminate in a major international photography exhibition touring to Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change from May 27 for 3 months and to New York later this year (to be announced).

The inaugural Decade of Change jury made up one of 1854’s most prominent panels to date, including Terry Tamminen, former CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation; Paul Dickinson, Founder and Executive Chairman of CDP; Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT) and other major voices in climate discourse and activism.

Among the Series winners is First Witnesses by Vivay Jodha. Despite contributing the least to the causes of climate change, developing countries are hit the hardest by its impacts. First Witnesses is a poignant portrait series about India’s farming community — many of whom borrow money to lease land or buy seeds, but are often unable to repay loans when increasingly erratic weather patterns ruin their crops. Since 1995, this inability to repay loans or keep farms viable has led to over 300,000 Indian farmers committing suicide. 

Having begun four years ago, Jodha’s ongoing project, First Witnesses, is centered around the survivors – mainly widows – who are the first witnesses to this largely climate-induced tragedy.

Kawsak Sacha (The Living Jungle)  by Evangelos Daskalakis is the other Series winner. Kawsak Sacha is a poetic documentary series that ruminates on humankind’s capacity to co-exist with the natural world. Set amongst Sarayaku, an indigenous Kichwa community in the Ecuadorian Amazonia, the project explores the concept of ‘Kawsak Sacha’, or ‘the Living Jungle’ — which understands the forest as a living being that is formed of and communicates with all the beings that live within it: its protecting spirits, animals, plants, trees, waterfalls and rivers. 

Having lived with the community for a period, photographer Evangelos Daskalakis experienced first-hand how “a society that looks poor at first glance, due its lack of material goods, manages to interpret the notion of wealth differently: by prioritizing instead nature, simplicity, communal life, creativity and solidarity.”

Inspired by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the single image competition covers the categories People, Urban, Nature and Futures. Amongst the winners, Lena C Emery highlights the little-understood importance of fungi, namely as a vital agent in relieving the pressures we put on the natural world and its resources. Raquel Rivas Navas considers the impending wave of ‘climate migration’ as certain regions are rendered uninhabitable due to climate change, and Slater King muses on the human cost of plastic pollution. Other winners include Jacob Dykes, Michael Snyder, Hui Choi, Yask Desai, Ciril Jazbec, Micha Serraf and more.

The winner for Moving Image is Cambodia Burning by Sean Gallagher. Year on year, fires burn in record numbers throughout the forests of north and central Cambodia. Today, it is estimated that there is only 3% of primary forest left throughout the country. 

Using a unique mix of drone cinematography and Cambodian poetry, Sean Gallagher's winning film explores the dramatic changes in Cambodia's landscapes alongside the emotional impact that forest fires and deforestation have had on Cambodian people. 

© Patrizia Dottori, FireBerg'08 Hot|as|ice #S3-6. It is the beginning of a research through the opposite view of reality. Actually, I used the negative as a point of view to transmit heat through ice: the cracks of glaciers become the cracks of a volcano, the expanses of water become red-hot lands. The photographic inversion from positive to negative does not change the state of things: water remains water and ice remains ice.

The exhibition debuts at Jockey Club Museum of Climate Change from May 27 and will travel later in the year, with a venue in New York, to be announced.  

For more information please visit: https://www.1854.photography/awards/decade-of-change/ 

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