Maverick Life

In pictures

2024 Sony World Photography Awards: Creative category

2024 Sony World Photography Awards: Creative category
Taken on 27 June 2023, more than one month after the 15th anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake, Sichuan Province. At the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, earthquake survivor Liang Kexin (22) holds her portrait taken in 2018. Later that day she attended her graduation ceremony and her results meant she was admitted to Tongji University for postgraduate study. "On 12 May, 2008, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 struck Wenchuan, China, killing more than 69,000 people, injuring over 370,000 more and leaving another 17,000 missing. They say that ‘time is a great healer’, but it can also make things worse. This photographic series focuses on the survivors of the tragedy. The first stage was to take portraits in 2008, 2009, 2014, 2018 and 2023. In each one, the survivors held a print of their previous portrait, so the final image combines multiple portraits showing the passage of time. I juxtaposed the portraits with images of the earthquake scene from 2008, which I printed and burned, tore, sprayed with water mist, reassembled, rephotographed and pasted to symbolise ‘nirvana’ and a ‘rebirth from the ashes’. To this composite I added text from the survivors, written in Chinese, describing their 15-year life journey since the earthquake." Image: © Qiu Yan, China Mainland, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

The Sony World Photography Awards returns to celebrate contemporary photography and the ways the arts reflect the world around us. Here is a selection of the images from the Professional competition in the creative category, with Mackenzie Calle (United States), Tine Poppe (Norway) and Sujata Setia (United Kingdom) as finalists.

Aspiring LGBTQ+ astronaut Brian Murphy (they/them) during space flight simulations. Murphy is a former winner of the Out Astronaut contest, which sponsors one early career LGBTQ+ scientist to embark on civilian astronaut training to promote diversity in space science, both on Earth and in space. From the late 1950s, astronauts on NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs were required to take two heterosexuality tests, and in 1994, NASA asked ‘to include homosexuality as a psychiatrically disqualifying condition’ for astronauts. The psychiatric team protested, but NASA insisted. A 2022 study found that LGBTQ+ astronauts felt that being out may ‘hurt their chances of getting a [Space Shuttle] flight’ and, to date, NASA has never selected or flown an openly LGBTQ+ astronaut. The Gay Space Agency confronts the exclusion of openly queer astronauts. The series offers a queer counter-narrative to the history that has prevented the LGBTQ+ community from flying and imagines a more accepting future. To bridge the diversity gap and work towards a more inclusive future, this project envisions queer people in space. By traversing its edges, we can imagine a world that is not limited by anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. The Gay Space Agency asks what it truly means to have the ‘right stuff’. Image: © Mackenzie Calle, United States, Finalist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

The gravesite of Franklin Kameny at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington D.C. Kameny was an astronomer in the U.S. Army who hoped to one day go into space. He was also one of thousands of homosexual federal employees fired under the Lavender Scare in the mid-twentieth century. From the late 1950s, astronauts on NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs were required to take two heterosexuality tests, and in 1994, NASA asked ‘to include homosexuality as a psychiatrically disqualifying condition’ for astronauts. The psychiatric team protested, but NASA insisted. A 2022 study found that LGBTQ+ astronauts felt that being out may ‘hurt their chances of getting a [Space Shuttle] flight’ and, to date, NASA has never selected or flown an openly LGBTQ+ astronaut. The Gay Space Agency confronts the exclusion of openly queer astronauts. The series offers a queer counter-narrative to the history that has prevented the LGBTQ+ community from flying and imagines a more accepting future. To bridge the diversity gap and work towards a more inclusive future, this project envisions queer people in space. By traversing its edges, we can imagine a world that is not limited by anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments. The Gay Space Agency asks what it truly means to have the ‘right stuff’. Image: © Mackenzie Calle, United States, Finalist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘Anthurium andraeanum’. Born and bred in industrial scale greenhouses, cut flowers have no contact with nature and generate high CO2 emissions. The Western world’s supply of cut flowers used to be derived from local greenhouses, but most of the flowers we buy in our stores today have been transported by planes or lorries from digitally run greenhouses around the world; Colombia, Ecuador and equatorial East Africa are currently the largest producers of cut flowers on the planet. The greenhouses contribute to high water use and chemical runoff, while the flowers can generate significant carbon emissions through their refrigeration and long-haul transportation – stems may be transported up to 9,600 km (6,000 miles) in refrigerated aeroplane holds. These cut flowers were bought at a local flower shop and photographed in front of prints of landscapes in my studio. Image: © Tine Poppe, Norway, Finalist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘Gerbera jamesonii’. “Born and bred in industrial scale greenhouses, cut flowers have no contact with nature and generate high CO2 emissions. The Western world’s supply of cut flowers used to be derived from local greenhouses, but most of the flowers we buy in our stores today have been transported by planes or lorries from digitally run greenhouses around the world; Colombia, Ecuador and equatorial East Africa are currently the largest producers of cut flowers on the planet. The greenhouses contribute to high water use and chemical runoff, while the flowers can generate significant carbon emissions through their refrigeration and long-haul transportation – stems may be transported up to 9,600 km (6,000 miles) in refrigerated aeroplane holds. These cut flowers were bought at a local flower shop and photographed in front of prints of landscapes in my studio.” Image: © Tine Poppe, Norway, Finalist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘कितनी गिरह? (How Many More Knots?)’. We were seven daughters and four sons. When anyone came through the door my father would give our hand to them in marriage. Derived from the ancient Asian form of torture of lingchi (known as ‘death by a thousand cuts’), A Thousand Cuts is an ongoing series of portraits and stories that present a photographic study of patterns of domestic abuse in the South Asian community. I have borrowed the metaphorical meaning of lingchi to showcase the cyclical nature of domestic abuse. The continuous act of chipping at the soul of the abused is expressed by making cuts on the portrait of the participant, while the prints are made on thin paper to depict the fragility of the subject’s existence. The final artwork is photographed in a tight crop to create a sense of suffocation and absence of room for movement. Image: © Sujata Setia, United Kingdom, Finalist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘मिट्टी के दायरे (Circles in Sand)’. My mother’s womb. It’s from there that I started witnessing the violence. I remember the sound the cement floor made when she was dragged by her hair across it. I was three. I have grown up learning that to be the only sound of music. Derived from the ancient Asian form of torture of lingchi (known as ‘death by a thousand cuts’), A Thousand Cuts is an ongoing series of portraits and stories that present a photographic study of patterns of domestic abuse in the South Asian community. I have borrowed the metaphorical meaning of lingchi to showcase the cyclical nature of domestic abuse. The continuous act of chipping at the soul of the abused is expressed by making cuts on the portrait of the participant, while the prints are made on thin paper to depict the fragility of the subject’s existence. The final artwork is photographed in a tight crop to create a sense of suffocation and absence of room for movement. Image: © Sujata Setia, United Kingdom, Finalist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

Taken on 28 June 2023, more than one month after the 15th anniversary of the Wenchuan earthquake, on the bank of the Mínjiāng river in Sichuan Province. Earthquake survivor Cao Liangying (74), and her grandson Luo Yuanhang (15), hold their portrait taken in 2018. Luo Yuanhang has now graduated from junior high school and is preparing to go to high school. On 12 May, 2008, an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 struck Wenchuan, China, killing more than 69,000 people, injuring over 370,000 more and leaving another 17,000 missing. They say that ‘time is a great healer’, but it can also make things worse. This photographic series focuses on the survivors of the tragedy. The first stage was to take portraits in 2008, 2009, 2014, 2018 and 2023. In each one, the survivors held a print of their previous portrait, so the final image combines multiple portraits showing the passage of time. I juxtaposed the portraits with images of the earthquake scene from 2008, which I printed and burned, tore, sprayed with water mist, reassembled, rephotographed and pasted to symbolise ‘nirvana’ and a ‘rebirth from the ashes’. To this composite I added text from the survivors, written in Chinese, describing their 15-year life journey since the earthquake. Image: © Qiu Yan, China Mainland, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘Can Nuclear Fusion Power Your Home’. Batteries at a solar farm in Arizona mounted behind acrylic, then onto a larger dye sublimated aluminium print of Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park, California. There have been 37 epochs in the history of Earth. Humans have been here for fewer than two of these, yet our impact has been greatly outsized. Nature continues to reinvent itself, but can we adapt with it? Will we be part of the next chapter? With this series I have mounted scenes of habitation behind acrylic, as if we can separate the things we do from having an impact on the natural world, and placed these within sweeping landscapes of the deserts of the American southwest – a stand-in for a future planet shaped by rising temperatures. The constructed world behind the acrylic is protected, while the landscapes, though durably printed on aluminium, remain exposed. The continuity of line and colour between these scenes points to their interconnectedness and the multi-layered images are finished with hand-painted frames, alluding to the planet’s next chapter. As the image pushes beyond the frame, the story continues to evolve. Image: © Diana Cheren Nygren, United States, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘Air Pollution’. A vista from Siena, Italy, mounted behind acrylic, then onto a larger dye sublimated aluminium print of Death Valley National Park, California. There have been 37 epochs in the history of Earth. Humans have been here for fewer than two of these, yet our impact has been greatly outsized.  Image: © Diana Cheren Nygren, United States, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

Dance of the eyes. Like postcards sent from the world of dreams and fears, this series of images presents a kitsch and often absurd world where new stories are found. Offering both a humorous and serious contemplation of our past and present, these fragments of history come from a world that in and of itself is often completely out of joint. Surreal greetings from ‘Absurdistan’! Image: © Peter Franck, Germany, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

A portrait of a woman on paper. Like postcards sent from the world of dreams and fears, this series of images presents a kitsch and often absurd world where new stories are found. Offering both a humorous and serious contemplation of our past and present, these fragments of history come from a world that in and of itself is often completely out of joint. Surreal greetings from ‘Absurdistan’! Image: © Peter Franck, Germany, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘Wandering in Absolute Freedom’. Fluttering butterflies grow from a butterfly pattern on a vase. Zhuangzi’s so-called ‘wandering mind’ expresses a state of spiritual comfort within the universe, and an achievement of a state of harmony, tranquility, infinity and nature. By synthesising Chinese traditional culture with modern elements, these image interfaces have replaced the traditional painting’s function of introducing and interpreting the world and reality, going beyond the borrowing of ‘form’ to achieve the extension of ‘meaning.’ The viewer seems to cross the distance between themselves and the image, conveying a way of looking at the world, and a longing and pursuit of spiritual freedom beyond reality. Image: © Lei Jiang, China Mainland, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘Wandering in Absolute Freedom’. A round chair swings under a pine tree. Zhuangzi’s so-called ‘wandering mind’ expresses a state of spiritual comfort within the universe, and an achievement of a state of harmony, tranquility, infinity and nature. Image: © Lei Jiang, China Mainland, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘My Eggs Are Broken’. “Conceptual photograph depicting the condition of endometriosis. This object was photographed in my home in Scotland using studio lights with softboxes. ‘My Eggs Are Broken’ is a photographic series visualising the effects of endometriosis, a condition suffered by approximately 10 percent of women around the world. The repercussions can affect the menstrual cycle and fertility, cause severe and intense pain, and have significant negative effects on a person’s quality of life, be it physically, mentally, socially or economically. Commonly used treatments include contraceptives, hormonal treatment that induces menopause and hysterectomy. In the UK, the average waiting time to get a diagnosis for this condition is seven and a half years, with treatment taking even longer. My aim is to raise awareness of the condition among undiagnosed sufferers, as well as medical professionals. My constructed imagery utilises metaphorical objects as a means of examining this complex subject. Images representing the general condition are portrayed mostly through still life photographs, while my own experiences of living with the illness often feature my face or body. Image: © Noru Innes, Finland, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘My Eggs Are Broken’. “Conceptual still life depicting the condition of endometriosis. A ‘dead fish’ is a term used for a sexual partner – usually a woman – who is unresponsive or passive in bed. Image: © Noru Innes, Finland, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

Young lifeguards in the waves at Port Vieux beach in Biarritz. This elegant seaside town on the Basque coast in south-west France was a popular holiday destination for European royalty in the 1800s. The area is also popular with surfers. “In the summer of 1959, Pier Paolo Pasolini got behind the wheel of his Fiat 500 to undertake a complete tour of Italy’s beaches. The series of magazine articles that he wrote about his journey was published as a book in the 1990s, and after reading it I decided to set off for a summer-long assault on the French coastline. My journey began on the island where I spent much of my childhood in the family vacation home, but sun-filled memories soon faded before the disenchantment of a scorching summer marked by major economic, health and climatic upheavals. Lightness gave way to the heaviness of what seems to be a profound paradigm shift, and my ‘long sandy road’ became the crossroads of worlds. In a game of counter-types my photographs experiment with the random, organic alteration of digital images printed on long-out-of-date photographic paper from the 1970s, combined with lith developer.” Image: © Romain Laurendeau, France, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

Young cyclists after a refreshing swim on the pebble beach at Étretat. Its white chalk cliffs and greyish pebble beaches have made it an international tourist destination, with more than three million visitors a year. Painters such as Albert Marquet, Gustave Courbet, Eugène Boudin and Claude Monet have helped put the town on the map, while writers such as Maupassant and Gustave Flaubert were also regular visitors. Image: © Romain Laurendeau, France, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘This is where love comes to die.’ Each of the photographs that make up the polyptych was taken as part of a search for the extraordinary in the trivial; for the immensity present in small things. This photographic essay takes a journey through everyday life, exploring the intimacy of things and inviting the viewer to contemplate the extraordinary that is present in the trivial, using their imagination as a vehicle for a journey through universes where one photograph joins another, and another, and another. The photographs are structured in polyptychs – always four in number – in an allusion to the lyric of sonnet stanzas, where the narrative and its rhythm take place within a poetic metric form. The polyptychs were created in 2023 from analogue photographs taken over the last three years; most of the photographs were taken at my home in the city of São Paulo, Brazil. Image: © Daniela Balestrin, Brazil, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024

‘At noon, the birds.’ Each of the photographs that make up the polyptych was taken as part of a search for the extraordinary in the trivial; for the immensity present in small things. Image: © Daniela Balestrin, Brazil, Shortlist, Professional competition, Creative, Sony World Photography Awards 2024 DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    No doubt anything woke will win in this crazy world. I’m not sure what the majority of individuals would choose, but from my perspective the anthurium and the butterfly pics would top my list. Based on my personal leaning toward nature, colour and the light contrast. Possibly its an age thing and something to do with the old world I grew up in.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted

Daily Maverick Elections Toolbox

Feeling powerless in politics?

Equip yourself with the tools you need for an informed decision this election. Get the Elections Toolbox with shareable party manifesto guide.