Paolo Pellegrin “Devastated Lands”

© Paolo Pellegrin

© Paolo Pellegrin

From June 5 to September 30, 2015 at the photo festival of La Gacilly (France).
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Paolo Pellegrin is one of the most highly acclaimed photojournalists in the world (having scooped six World Press Photos, the Robert Capa medal, the Eugene W. Smith prize, the Hansel Mieth prize, and the Leica medal of excellence, to name but a few) and with just cause – he also happens to be one of the most talented, accomplished and multi-skilled photographers of his generation. He is one of the most prolific, too, with his work taking him to the Oscars in Los Angeles, Cambodia, Iraq with the fall of Saddam Hussein, Indonesia in the aftermath of the tsunami in December 2004, Louisiana ripped apart by Hurricane Katrina, and Haiti devastated by the earthquake of 2010. Last year, his photos were used on activist group U2’s latest album.

“In my work, when I’m exposed to the suffering of others, their loss, sometimes even their death, I serve as a witness. My job and my responsibility is to create archives in the collective memory.” By confronting misery, death and desolation across the world, the photographer hopes to expose us to truth so we can no longer ignore it. Images of devastation run through Paolo’s work – landscapes in ruin, sinister theatres of human suffering, panoramas of scor- ched earth, horizons that bleed into debris and rubble, where columns of smoke fuse with menacing clouds. Despite the horrors that underpin his work, Paolo Pellegrin’s photos are often beautiful and striking, yet it would be a mistake to see this aesthetic flair as indecent or profiteering. The paradoxical beauty of these photos is their greatest strength : by retaining our attention and drawing us in, they provoke and prevent us from turning away, forcing us to realise that “in the death of others is a loss that belongs to the entire world.”

Paolo Pellegrin was born in 1964 in Rome. He first studied architecture before devoting himself to photography. Between 1991 and 2001, he was represented by the VU agency in Paris, becoming a member of the prestigious Magnum agency in 2005.


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