The global award in photography and sustainability

Christopher Anderson

My work seeks to explore the relationship between politics, economics, consumption, and the earth. I approach the topic of Earth (or more specifically man’s relationship to the earth) by looking at how consumption in the developed world creates the conditions for further destruction of the earth in the developing world, specifically Latin America. More importantly, I examine how this relationship foments poverty, violence and political turmoil.

When we speak of “…marks that man makes on the face of the land”, we cannot speak about the environment in a vacuum. We cannot look to one distilled simplification such as ‘greed’ or ‘globalisation’ to understand the destruction of our earth. The conversation cannot just be about this or that industry that pumps toxins into the ground, or one government that exploits its nation’s natural resources. In my photographic work, this means an approach that speaks to the complex and inter-connected relationship that economics, politics, history and society have with the environment: consumption drives economics, economics drive governmental policy, governments must drive economic expansion that in turn drives consumption and so on.

Oil can be the most terrible curse upon a nation. Venezuela has lots of it. Not just oil, but iron ore, aluminium, gold, and other valuable natural resources. At the same time, the country imports the majority of its food supply. The entire economy is built around the ever-expanding exploitation of resources. A few get rich, but the masses stay poor. Venezuelan history is a long list of one leader after, rising to power on populist anger, but who can never seem to pull the country out of this cycle: resources flow north and food flows south. Quite literally, the Venezuelans depend on their earth to pay for their food and that leads to even further destruction of their environment.

For the last five years, I have been returning to Latin America to explore the cycle of consumption, destruction, violence and political turmoil that ebbs and flows with the price of oil. These pictures are excerpted pages of the resulting book, Capitolio, which is published in 2009 by Editorial RM.

Christopher Anderson