In case you missed ‘Rural-Urban’, the recent Syngenta Photography Award Exhibition at London’s Somerset House, we’ve captured some key visual ideas from the show.
The first Syngenta Photography Award aims to “draw attention to, and stimulate dialogue around key global challenges.” Here are 5 key visual ideas we took from the exhibition.
Cities are the drivers of the new economic powerhouses of the BRIC nations. Migration across the world is confirmed by the startling data on the Syngenta photography award site, “More than a billion people live in urban slums, typically with little access to water, sanitation or shelter.” If left unchecked, the UN-Habitat estimates there could be a worldwide slum population of three billion by 2050. Alesandro Grassini’s “Environmental Migrants: the last illusion” (above) communicates the rootless, temporary, precarious existence of the economic migrant, all the visual angles converging on and closing in on the woman cooking. Albert Bonfils’ image below shows “Twai Di Min Gong eating on his room floor”. In these two images the comfort of a meal contrasts with the surroundings – the rubble in the room, a speeding train, the bricks supporting the migrant workers’ beds.
Geological mapping just went documentary in this image by Andi Wijawa of a village in Indonesia. This mining works tear neat, horizontal strips from the land, peeling away at the surface.
A girl plays in a burned-out forest. This image is about contrast, the innocence of the girl playing contrasted the cynical destruction of the forest. It’s about contrast in scale, the young child facing the enormity of the destruction. And the contrast in colour, the random greenery as signs of ‘nature’, the red t-shirt and the black, charred, trunks of wood. Contrast is one of the narrative devices in current environmental photography, a simple and incredibly effective means of storytelling.
The natural landscape and the built environment reversed. The strange perspective of Arjen Schmitz. Forlorn nature.
Life Imitating Art Imitating Life
Anna Beeke’s photo of a water tank in a parking lot near Everett, Washington, captures our mixed-up, sentimental, confused attitude to the natural – we get rid of it but need its image. Beeke writes of the image, “It speaks to the idea of how even as we expand our urban spaces and deplete our natural resources, we still idealize the image of nature and wilderness and try to keep it close to us, even if only through visual representations.”
To see more of this highly considered body of work and to find our more about the issues, go to the extensive and useful Rural-Urban website.