From creative interpretations of the pandemic to imaginary landscapes, the series recognised in this year's Latin America Professional Award are a standout selection demonstrating the technical skill, artistic excellence and powerful story-telling of the region's photography community. Shining a spotlight on talent from across Mexico, Central America and South America, the award celebrates how immensely varied each photographer's work is.
A huge congratulations goes to Andrea Alkalay for her ingenious series Landscape on Landscape. Fascinated by the idea of nature as a cultural construct, in this project Alkalay shows us what it looks like when the real and the manipulated overlap, resulting in a new landscape. In the foreground we see a tranquil monochrome scene, which is juxtaposed with the rear image, which shows a digitally manipulated colourful backdrop. The judges applauded how these images deal with observations such as the perception of colour through its absence, or the flatness of paper through its fold.
Speaking about her win, the Argentinian photographer says: 'I am enormously grateful and proud for this prestigious award from the World Photography Organisation team. It is so important to give visibility to the artwork to reach a wider audience, and as an Argentine artist, it represents a great opportunity, especially in these very rare times. With this recognition, I am lucky to be able to show the world another way of seeing (which is a thought) opening a dialogue with other photographers or art media people.
'It is a huge personal achievement to have my project valued by an international jury, exhibited, analysed within the greatest projects selected worldwide. It is a key stage of the journey of an artist's transit. To get out of the internal isolated circuit, and to flow out to the world gives meaning to our doing. Definitively empowers my photographic artistic career in a super dynamic way and opens up chances for new challenges. I am very happy to be part of an active community in this magical universe of photography.'
Latin America Professional Award winner
Landscape on Landscape by Andrea Alkalay
To shine a brighter spotlight on this year’s winners and shortlist, we’ve highlighted just a few of our favourite series below.
The (un)Real by Morfi Jiménez Mercado
‘These images arise from fear, nostalgia and uncertainty from spending time in solitary quarantine. I looked through my archive and asked friends and family to take self-portraits. I then converted these digital images into 35mm negatives and projected these onto a canvas using the city as a backdrop – as if they were a film. I wanted to create this idea that what we are experiencing is not real, that it is like a movie.’
Citizens of Tomorrow by Dolores Laboureau
'Citizens of Tomorrow started as a personal project during quarantine. It's a work in progress that combines the world as we used to know it and a series of portraits that describes the new normal in a dramatic way.'
No Border Wall by Alejandro Prieto
'The nearly two-thousand mile long US-Mexico border traverses some of the continent’s most biologically diverse regions. This fragile ecosystem is home to a diverse population of mammals, reptiles, birds and plants. Many species migrate between the biomes in the south and north of the continent. They will be especially affected if the US government implements its plans to erect a wall at the border with Mexico. This border infrastructure would not only restrict the local movements of wild animals but also fragment their habitats and interrupt the traditional migration routes they have always used.'
Shipibo-Konibo: The Healing Plants by Florence Goupil
'The epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic has moved to the Peruvian Amazon, endangering the lives of the indigenous Shipibo-Konibo people. In December 2020, more than 209,179 confirmed cases and 3,106 deceased were reported by the Peruvian Department of Indigenous Peoples.
'Faced with government negligence over the lack of medical care and the only Amazonian hospital collapsed, the Shipibo-Konibo created a group of traditional nurses named Comando Matico in order to heal their people with the use of their plant-based medicine.
"Plants don’t leave us and we don’t leave plants", states Ronald Suárez, President of the Indigenous Organization Coshikox. Ronald recently lost his mother and states that elders disappear with the library of knowledge linked to the use of plants and the biodiversity of the Peruvian Amazon. Like Ronald, many Shipibo-Konibo consider this situation as a genocide by abandonment.'
ABOUT THE LATIN AMERICA PROFESSIONAL AWARD
To celebrate the best dynamic and inspiring photographic work currently created in Latin America, the World Photography Organisation and Sony Latin America launched the Latin America Professional Award. The prize is open to all photographers from Latin American countries entering bodies of work (five to ten images) to the Professional competition. Now in its second year, the prize has uncovered some of the most interesting and talented photographers from the region and put their work on a local as well as global stage. Photographers receive Sony digital imaging equipment and exposure through a local regional exhibition.