On the evening of the UN International Day of Peace, 21 September 2021, winners of the international photography competition, Global Peace Photo Award, were awarded for the ninth time at the Austrian Parliament in Vienna. Recipients of Alfred-Fried Peace medals for their work are : Nate Hofer for ‘One and a Half Acres’, Shabana Zahir for ‘Our Journey’, Derrick Ofusu Boateng for ‘Peace and Strength’, Snezhana von Büdingen for ‘Meeting Sofie’, and Maggie Shannon for ‘Extreme Pain, but Also Extreme Joy ’.
Winner of the Global Peace Photo Award main prize Peace Image of the Year 2021, worth € 10000, is Maggie Shannon for her reportage about home births during the first lockdown in Los Angeles in spring 2020. The hospitals are flooded with Covid patients. In the maternity wards, spouses are not allowed. Many women want to give birth at home. Without mask, with the fathers. They are afraid of the hospitals. They are in panic. The midwifes receive emergency calls. In this situation, Margaret Shannon decides to accompany four of these midwives. She is impressed with the calm and decisiveness of these women. With their experience. And she is elated by those moments when all the pain has been overcome and the private happiness simply drowns out all the knowledge of the global pandemic.
Winner of the The Children’s Peace Image of the Year 2021 in the Children and Youth category, worth € 1000, is seven-year-old Aadhyaa Aravind Shankar from India. Her photo ‘Lap of Peace’ shows Aadhyaa’s mother resting in the lap of her reading mother. Both women are framed by plants that provide freshness. From outside, a cooling breeze comes in. Whether still a child or long grown up, Aadhyaa is convinced : Everyone finds peace in such moments. Finds safety and relaxation. Besides the Peace Image of the Year award received by Maggie Shannon, further recipients of the Alfred-Fried Peace Medals in 2021 are :
American photographer Nate Hofer for his work ‘One and a Half Acres’. Through the eye of his camera drone, he shows us his version of “swords to ploughshares”. A transition from military to civil : They look peaceful, these rectangular pieces of landscape in the American Midwest. Farming land, parking space for scrapped cars, area of wild growth, a church square, a forest, or a harvesting yard. But beneath them used to be hidden what could once have brought the death of millions : 450 launching platforms for intercontinental ballistic missiles, aimed at the Soviet Union. The end for these platforms of destruction came when US president George W. Bush and Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev managed to agree in 1991 on the START treaty : an agreement to at least reduce their nuclear weapons arsenal. Once the missile launch facilities had been dismantled, the land was sold back to the farmers.
Afghan photographer Shabana Zahir for her images created in her refugee camp in Greece entitled ‘Our journey’. In a very direct way, a young woman, so far completely unknown in the photography community, has translated her thoughts and feelings into pictures. In Farsi, her surname means “belonging to the night”. It was at night that her flight began. It lasted for months. Across borders, barbed wire, mountains. Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey. In Turkey, Shabana worked as a waitress in a small restaurant and learned the language. Then she came to Greece on a boat. In the hope of getting to Western Europe, to Germany, along the route through the Balkans. A hope so far dashed. The refugee camp of Diavata near Thessaloniki. Two years of agony. Feeling wordless and useless. Until the small NGO Una mano per un Sorriso, a hand for a smile, introduced Shabana to photography. To a new way of expressing herself. To speaking in pictures.
Derrick Ofusu Boateng from Ghana for his work ‘Peace and Strength’. He is someone who loves Africa and its cultures. Who does not agree with our solidified image of Africa from news and films. He is someone who wants to emphatically celebrate the strength of the Africans. Their poetry. So he set out with his mobile camera, quite simply, as he says. Of course, he composes his pictures. Uses color generously. Wants beauty. Wants a personal victory over the everyday struggle. He celebrates play. He photographs and paints at the same time.
Russian-born, German-resident photographer Snezhana von Büdingen for her work ‘Meeting Sofie’ : Snezhana von Büdingen got to know her in autumn 2017, at the home of the girl, then 18-years-old, a farmstead dating back to the 16th century in the village of Eilenstedt in the German state of Sachsen-Anhalt. A fairy-tale garden, a house full of antiques and old paintings. It is like out of a different era, says the photographer, dreamy, harmonic, full of peace. And in it this special young woman. Self-confident, at peace with herself, who likes pretty clothes, is in love with a young man, secure in her family. In transition from child to adult, with all that entails in searching and trying things out and small dramas. Snezhana von Büdingen at first documented the intimate love between mothers and their children with Down syndrome in a series of portraits taken in a studio in Cologne. But the vitality and diversity of her intimate long-term project with Sophie makes her hope to take down the “imaginary boundaries” between us and the lives others. We humans, she says, “definitely need more acceptance, more integration, more love.”
The Global Peace Photo Award 2021 received a total of 16,396 images from 114 countries, most of which from India followed by Russia, USA, Germany, and Iran.
Submitted photos were judged by a top-notch jury. The reasons given by the jury members from eight nations behind the total of six awards were formulated by long-time GEO Editor-in-Chief Peter-Matthias Gaede from Hamburg. GoSee : friedaward.com/jury
The prize was inspired by Austrian pacifist and author Alfred Hermann Fried (* 11 November 1864, Vienna; † 4 May 1921, Vienna). Fried received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1911, together with Tobias Asser, organizer of the first International The Hague Peace Conference.
The Awards Ceremony – In his welcoming speech, Peter Raggl, President of the Austrian Federal Council, emphasized the extraordinary cooperation with the Global Peace Photo Award and how important it is to give peace a forum in these times.
The host throughout the evening was Lois Lammerhuber, who initiated the Global Peace Photo Award together with his wife Silvia Lammerhuber and has organized it from the very beginning. He reminded us once again that “peace is not the absence of war, but something I would like to call a successful life. Every year, the submitted photos and stories touch us anew with their creativity and passion for what is good and peaceful in this world.”
Following a moment of silence to commemorate the journalists killed in 2021, Galina Timchenko, founder and director of the Latvian online platform ‘Meduza’, gave a blazing speech for freedom of expression : “This campaign against freedom of speech, against truth and European values is not just about Russia, it’s a direct threat to all Europe. And the only defense we, civil society, could build, the only shield we have, is made from paper or monitors with text or photos on it. Free, objective, trusted information gives us hope to protect all we believe in.”
Afterwards, the Children’s Peace Image of the Year 2021 award was presented to 7-year-old Aadhyaa Aravind Shankar from India for her photo ‘Lap of Peace’. The award was given to her by Mag. Gerhard Lahner, Board Member and Chief Operations Officer (COO) of the Vienna Insurance Group (VIG), which supports this award : “The philosophy of Vienna Insurance Group to think in and for generations and thus take responsibility has always been at the heart of the business conducted by our insurance group. Which is why taking social and cultural responsibility in the long term is of particular importance to us.”
Claudia Dannhauser, Head of the Austrian Parliamentary Reporting Association, ORF Zeit im Bild, reflected in her speech on the importance of peace and that the Global Peace Photo Award makes a wonderful contribution to it : “Peace is a word that triggers different associations and emotions in each of us. To find the one image that symbolizes peace? It is not an easy task. The Global Peace Photo Award has been doing it for years. It is an invaluable contribution to sharpen the view, to raise the importance of peace for all of us – in times when war is commonplace, those affected do not always get quick help, and cynicism often wins out over idealism.”
The five prize winners, who were later awarded the Alfred Fried Peace Medal, expressed in their reportages and images this year best what peace can look like.
This year’s chairman of the 25-member jury, Eric Falt, Director UNESCO New Delhi, India, emphasized in his closing keynote speech, on the one hand, the high quality of the submitted photos, and on the other, the importance of gender equality : “There were so many extraordinary images expressing Peace in our 2021 photo contest. For the Image of the Year, our jury eventually selected the moving photographs of Maggie Shannon, who chronicled the work of midwives in Los Angeles during the COVID-19 crisis, unsung heroes of the pandemic assisting women to bring newborns into our crazy but beautiful world. In fact, three of our winners this year were female photographers showcasing women, which reminded us that there will be no true peace anywhere until and unless we achieve equality for women and men everywhere.”
The evening culminated in the announcement of the winning photograph. The award was presented by sponsor Silvia Lammerhuber, Peter Raggl, the President of the Austrian Federal Council, and this year’s jury Chairman Eric Fault. Lucky winner Maggie Shannon spoke last and found touching words for her awarded photographic work in her acceptance speech. GoSee : friedaward.com