Elrea Song wins the „Peace Image of the Year“ at the Global Peace Photo Award 2023.

The jury of the Global Peace Photo Awards selected the work „Combing Peace“ by South Korean artist Elrea Song from more than 19,000 entries from 133 countries for the 10,000 euro prize. 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.

The keynote address of the evening was given by Shoura Hashemi, who has been at the helm of Amnesty International Austria since August 1, 2023.

Vienna, 4 October 2023 – this evening, the winners of the international Global Peace Photo Award competition were awarded the Alfred Fried Peace Medal at the Austrian Parliament for the eleventh time.

Winners of the Global Peace Photo Award 2023

Ghassane Kaaibich, Morocco for „Ahyae“.
Carla Kogelman, Netherlands for „Majella Park“.
Nuria López Torres, Spain for “Bad Hair”.
Marina Sycheva, Russia for “I’ll take you away”.
Elrea Song (Jiyeon Lee), Korea for “Combing Peace”.

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 where mainly the press conferences take place.

The Peace Image of the Year 2023

The main prize of 10,000 euros „Peace Image of the Year 2023“ went to the South Korean artist and photographer Elrea Song.

„Trash, waste. Not the only thing that gets swept into the seas. Human biographies, too, disappear in the nowhere, stories end up on a waste heap, achievements of a lifetime are forgotten, fates fade into eternal darkness. It is wars that do that, natural disasters. But also just the human trait of carelessness. The capacity to suppress what threatens life on our planet.
How to remind us of it in order to change it? How to reclaim what has been swept away? South Korean photographer Elrea Song aka Jiyeon Lee has asked children to take something back from the  flotsam of the seas that compresses the fragile relations between humans and nature, between lifestyle and nature consumption into poetically crazy images. Joyful and sad, alarming and wonderful at the same time. Thematizing 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 joint hopes of us all. And the will to rescue what otherwise will 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.

Silvia Lammerhuber, Edition Lammerhuber; Hartwig Löger, Vienna Insurance Group (VIG); Wolfgang Sobotka, Parliament Austria; Lois Lammerhuber, Edition Lammerhuber, Elrea Song. © Parlamentsdirektion/Johannes Zinner

The best peace image in the children’s and youth category, „The Children’s Peace Image of the Year 2023“, worth 1,000 euros, 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, she is still young. But she knows very well that 20 percent of her country is occupied by Russia. But peace 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 and works in an insurance company and whose 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.“

Hartwig Löger, Vienna Insurance Group (VIG); Wolfgang Sobotka, Parliament Austria; Gisela Kayser, Jury Member; Barbare Chikviladze. © Parlamentsdirektion/Johannes Zinner

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 award. The topic of peace is a central 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.“

© Parlamentsdirektion/Johannes Zinner

Lois Lammerhuber, who together with his wife Silvia Lammerhuber initiated and has organized the Global Peace Photo Award since the very beginning, 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 anew with their creativity and passion for what is good and peaceful in this world.“

© Parlamentsdirektion/Johannes Zinner

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 for surrender. Instead, right now is the time not to give up. Is now the time for an appeal to 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 imagination wins. Because we know: These images celebrate the good in people.“

Keynote by Amnesty International Austria Executive Director

© Parlamentsdirektion/Johannes Zinner

The keynote of the evening was held by Shoura Hashemi, who took over the management of Amnesty International Austria on August 1, 2023: „I see, I see what you don’t see: Photography is the concentration on a small – but important – section, on a supposed side issue, on a part of the big picture. Concentrating on a single image often brings a completely different view of reality as a whole. Lets us look closely and 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 picture reporting makes an important contribution to show with pictures what is perhaps not reported or cannot be reported otherwise. 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 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?“

In addition to awarding the „Peace Image of the Year“ to Elrea Song, Alfred Fried Peace Medals were awarded

… to the Dutch photographer Carla Kogelman for her work „Majella Park“. She took her pictures in July 2022 in Majella Park in Utrecht, a quarter near the railway station, with a high proportion of migrant inhabitants. What makes this integration project special: This is not about a few days of happy camping on the grass, but about months of preparation and follow-up work that strengthens the neighbourhood spirit. It is about sustained involvement and about feeling comfortable in one’s homeland. And about turning the city into a quasi village.
In this way camping in the park can be called a peace project – against the social segregation and aggression typical for larger cities. 

… to the Moroccan photographer Ghassane Kaaibich for his portrait „Ahyae“. His home is the Central-African rainforest in southern Cameroon, home to the pygmies of the Bakoula people. For individuals to start a quest, not for the next village, but across many borders into a completely new world, may be quite rare. Even today, many pygmy children don’t even attend school. The people in the forest, often nomadic, avoid contact with modernity. 
Yet Afra set off. From Cameroon across Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Algeria, at first to Morocco. Afra is transsexual. In Rabat she met Moroccan photographer Ghassane Kaaibich, who portrayed her. Who created an image of inner peace with her. A peace that Afra only found in liberal Canada. 
There, Kaaibich reports, she feels free from discrimination and harassment, feels accepted. And has found a job.

… to the Russian photographer Marina Sycheva for her work „I’ll take you away“. It is love. But to love, young Russian couples do not need a wedding. If they now decide to get married, there is a special reason for it since the Russian attack on the Ukraine. If one partner is already living abroad, the other can follow more easily. If one partner gets locked up because they have demonstrated against Putin, because of supposedly denigrating the army, or worse, if he wanted to evade conscription, the spouse can visit them more easily in prison.  

Marriage as a protest against war, marriage as a flight from dictatorship, marriage as a demonstration for peace, marriage as a retreat into a safety that hardly exists any more in Russian society: Against a dark backdrop, Russian photographer Marina Sycheva has portrayed young couples who have taken this step.

The message of her pictures: While there is a distinct lack of resistance against the regime in a frightened Russian society, manipulated by state media, and while it may be tempting to declare all Russians an incarnation of evil, it would be wrong not to differentiate. There is resistance. Even in Russia. And thoughts of flight are not cowardly. After all, anyone who marries in order to be able to emigrate, is giving up their previous life. Anyone who refuses military service so as not to become guilty of atrocities against Ukrainians is courageous. And on the side of peace.

… to the Spanish photographer Nuria López Torres for her work „Bad Hair“: La Larga Travesía, the long journey, is what Spanish photographer Nuria López Torres calls her project about the hidden and now increasingly louder and more visible weight of Africanness in Cuban society. To this end, she combines symbols and images from colonial times and slavery with portraits from today.

The photographer hopes that a history of racism, oppression and exploitation will transform itself into a history of the final revolt and of emancipation. Above all, the emancipation of women.

(Excerpts from the jury statements by Peter-Matthias Gaede.)

About the Global Peace Photo Award 2023

19,195 images from 133 countries were submitted for the Global Peace Photo Award 2023. Most of the entries came from India, China, the USA, Germany and Russia. The submissions were judged by a distinguished international jury.

The Global Peace Photo Award (formerly the Alfred Fried Photography Award) is organized by 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, APA – Austria Presse Agentur, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Photographie (DGPh) e.V. and Vienna Insurance Group.

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 the organiser of the Hague Conference on Private International Law Tobias Asser

Download press material (Winning images, jury statements, photos from the award ceremony):

For further information, please contact:
Lois Lammerhuber   +4369913583989

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