The jury of the Global Peace Photo Award chose the work ‘Combing Peace’ by South Korean artist Elrea Song out of more than 19,000 submissions from 133 countries for the award worth € 10,000. For the picture, the photographer had asked children to retrieve trash from the sea to show the delicate relationship between humans and nature. From the discarded trash, the children created almost surreal sculptures on the beach.
For the eleventh time on the evening of 4 October, the winners of the international Global Peace Photo Award competition were awarded the Alfred Fried Peace Medal at the Austrian Parliament. The keynote address of the evening was given by Shoura Hashemi, who has been at the helm of Amnesty International Austria since 1 August, 2023.
The winners of the Global Peace Photo Award in 2023 are :
Ghassane Kaaibich, Morocco, for ‘Ahyae’
Carla Kogelman, Netherlands, for ‘Majella Parc’
Nuria López Torres, Spain, for ‘Bad Hair’
Elrea Song, Korea, for ‘Combing Peace’
Marina Sycheva, Russia, for ‘I’ll take you away’
In his welcoming speech, Wolfgang Sobotka, the President of the Austrian National Council, emphasized the extraordinary cooperation with the Global Peace Photo Award and how important it is to provide a forum for peace in these times. This commitment is clearly visible in the Austrian Parliament. The pictures of the award winners will be shown in the auditorium for one year at a time. This is the room in which mainly press conferences are held.
The main prize of € 10,000 Peace Image of the Year 2023 went to South Korean artist and photographer Elrea Song.
“Trash, waste. Not the only thing that gets swept into the seas. Human biographies, too, disappear into nowhere, stories end up on a waste heap, achievements of a lifetime are forgotten, fates fade into eternal darkness. Wars are what do that, natural disasters. But also simply the human characteristic of carelessness. The capacity to suppress what threatens life on our planet.
How can we remind ourselves of this in order to change it? How can we reclaim what has been swept away? South Korean photographer Elrea Song, aka Jiyeon Lee, asked children to bring something back from the floating waste of the seas that reflects the fragile relations between humans and nature, between lifestyle and nature exploitation into poetically crazy images. Joyful and sad, alarming and wonderful at the same time. Exploring the topic of the flood of plastic as well as the desired welcome for those who seek refuge across the seas.
Peace, says Song, can only go forward, if you lend me your feet. And I lend you mine. Meaning: together. And it needs the united hopes of us all. And the will to rescue what otherwise would be swept away.
Elrea Song, born 1984, lives in Daejeon, South Korea, with her family and three nieces. They are all engaged in collecting waste along the coast. With her photographs, writes Song, she tries to demonstrate solidarity with people and nature. Song studied Visual Communication Design at the College of Arts. Outside Korea, her work has been shown in the USA and in Italy and has earned her an Award for Future Artists.” – This is how the jury’s laudation summarizes the award-worthiness of Elrea Song’s work.
The best peace image in the children and youth category, The Children’s Peace Image of the Year 2023, worth € 1,000, was won by 14-year-old Barbare Chikviladze from Georgia with her picture ‘Water Fun’.
The jury members from 11 countries found: “Why is the picture we are awarding here a picture of peace for 14-year-old Barbare Chikviladze from the Georgian capital Tbilisi? Because, she writes us, she may still be young, but she knows very well that 20 percent of her country is occupied by Russia. Peace, however, has to do with freedom. And freedom makes people happy. As happy as her friend was at that moment in a summer garden in Rustavi when Barbare pressed the shutter release. Every child, she wrote, deserves to be happy and to live in a peaceful country.
Barbare, whose mother is a philologist working at an insurance company and father is a lawyer, is growing up as an only child and has taken a liking to playing the piano in her spare time. And besides that, still quite fresh, she has developed an interest in photography. She just finds photography ‘really fun’. And was thrilled by the happiness in her friend’s eyes and expression.”
The prize was presented by Hartwig Löger, General Manager and Chairman of the Managing Board, Vienna Insurance Group (VIG): “Vienna Insurance Group has supported the Global Peace Photo Award since the very beginning. We have been promoting the Children’s Peace Photo since its inception, and since last year, we have also been the main sponsor of the entire event. The topic of peace is a key concern for us as an international and diverse insurance group represented in 30 countries. As people and as a company, we need a peaceful environment in order to flourish.”
Lois Lammerhuber, who initiated and has organized the Global Peace Photo Award since the very beginning together with his wife Silvia Lammerhuber, reminded us that ‘peace is not the absence of war, but something that I would like to call ‘successful life’. Every year the submitted photos and stories touch us again with their creativity and passion for what is good and peaceful in this world.”
Peter-Matthias Gaede, Editor-in-Chief of GEO magazine 1994 – 2014 and jury president 2023, praised the submitted works: “We award the prize for the best pictures of peace. Of peaceful movements at least, of peaceful efforts at least. And these are at first, perhaps even second glance more inconspicuous, quiet, less spectacular. We want to point out that man is not always the wolf of man. That there is an undeclared peace movement, rooted in the souls of people. Tracked down by photographers who do not follow the noise of battle – but the good impulses, the good intentions, the good initiatives that people are capable of.
The jury was united by the idea that it is valuable and important to counter the mainstream dystopia, which is only too understandable in view of the current world situation, with at least small glimmers of hope. Of course, with or without us, the wars of modern times will continue. With or without us, there will be poverty and misery. But, we think, it is not the time to surrender. Instead, right now is the time to not give up. It is now time to call upon the public: Let us show what can succeed despite everything. Let us show what can be beautiful despite everything. Let’s show where and how resistance to losing is stirring. Where people stand up against old injustices. Where people do NOT want to go to war. Where neighborhoods are really neighborhoods. Where refugees find new shores. Where the imagination wins. Because we know: These images celebrate the good in people.”
The keynote of the evening was held by Shoura Hashemi, who took over the management of Amnesty International Austria on 1 August, 2023: “I see, I see what you don’t see: Photography is focusing on a small – but important – section, on a supposed triviality, on a part of the big picture. Concentrating on a single image often brings a completely different view of reality as a whole. Let us take a close look and thus understand better. Images of peace are everywhere. We just have to look closely and store them within us.
I see, I see what you don’t see: Yes, we don’t see everything. We are not shown everything. Serious photojournalism makes an important contribution to show in images what is perhaps not reported or can otherwise not be reported. Because people can’t find the words to express the suffering, or because those affected remain silent out of fear. But when I talk about these pictures today, it is not because it is about the suffering that they depict. It is about the peace they lead to. By contributing to the search for truth, by helping the world to know what is happening – and being able to react to it.
Yes, we can discuss human rights. Just as we can think about images: What do they show us? What is the message behind them? How do they bring us closer to a world where there is peace, where minorities get their rights, and where those responsible are held accountable?” Here is the link to Hashemi’s speech: cloud.lammerhuber.at/index.php/s/was
19,195 images from 133 countries were submitted for the Global Peace Photo Award 2023. Most of the entries came from India, China, the US, Germany, and Russia. The submissions were judged by a top-notch international jury. See : globalpeacephotoaward.org/jury
Besides the Peace Image of the Year awarded to Elrea Song, Alfred Fried Peace Medals also went to: Ghassane Kaaibich, Carla Kogelman, Nuria López Torres, and Marina Sycheva.
The Global Peace Photo Award is organized in a cooperation between Edition Lammerhuber and Photographische Gesellschaft (PHG) in partnership with UNESCO, Austrian Parliament, Austrian Parliamentary Reporting Association, International Press Institute (IPI), German Youth Photography Award, World Press Photo Foundation, POY LATAM, LensCulture, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie (DGPh) e.V., Vienna Insurance Group and APA – Austria Press Agency.
The prize was inspired by the Austrian pacifist and writer Alfred Hermann Fried (* 11 November 1864 in Vienna; † 4 May 1921 in Vienna). Fried was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1911 together with Tobias Asser, the organizer of the Hague Conference on Private International Law.
GoSee : globalpeacephotoaward.org