Moroccan photographer Mohamed Kilito selected for the prestigious Leica Oscar Barnack Award

DUBAI: Documentary photographer Mohamed Kilito has been selected for the 42nd edition of the prestigious Leica Oscar Barnack Award.

Born in Lviv, Ukraine, Kilito grew up in Rabat, Morocco, where he now lives. In his work, he attempts to explore narratives relevant to the understanding of cultural identity, climate change and the sociology of the workforce.

The 41-year-old photographer was selected for “Before It’s Gone,” an ongoing multidisciplinary art project that highlights the erosion of the oases in Morocco.

‘Before It’s Gone’ by Mohamed Kilito/The Seventh Agency. (Gowen Contemporary)

“It is one of the most prestigious awards one can receive as a photographer,” Kilito told Arab News. “To be just a finalist is a real honor and a great privilege. Showcasing the project in an exhibition and in the Leica Catalog makes it possible to reach a wider audience and raise awareness of the reality of oases and their residents in the face of the effects of climate change. will allow,” he said.

Due to the effects of climate change and rising temperatures, there has been an increase in the frequency of droughts in Morocco, negatively affecting the country’s oases located in arid and semi-arid regions and causing desertification as well as biodiversity. Considered an ecological defense against an important refuge. ,

“I realized that desertification, frequent droughts and fires, changes in agricultural practices, over-exploitation of natural resources, rural migration and a sharp drop in water levels are all imminent threats to the existence of oases,” he said. The artist said in the statement. Prize. When he decided to work on the project, he said, “many of these concerns are rarely covered by the media and are largely unknown to the general public.”

‘Before It’s Gone’ by Mohamed Kilito/The Seventh Agency. (Gowen Contemporary)

Through his powerful, haunting and provocative photographs, Kilito hopes to draw attention to the disappearance of dew due to climate change, vigilant public opinion, policy makers and related organizations. Additionally, he hopes to raise awareness on the need to protect the ancestral intangible heritage of the nomadic culture in Morocco that exists in these oases.

Kilito will present illustrations from the project at an upcoming show at Gown Contemporary in Geneva, Switzerland, and also hopes to produce a book from the series.

“At the same time, I am trying to get a comparative way of finding out the situation in other countries where there is hail,” he told Arab News. “The first opportunities I have are currently concentrated in the Gulf countries. In the coming months, I will be visiting Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to better understand the uniqueness and organization of various oasis locations and local communities. The aim of my research is that of oases. To better understand the different approaches, best practices and programs applicable to pricing, conservation and sustainable development.”

The award is named after Oskar Barnack (1879–1936), the designer of the first Leica camera.

‘Before It’s Gone’ by Mohamed Kilito/The Seventh Agency. (Gowen Contemporary)

The 12 shortlisted photographers include Linsey Addario from the US, Irene Barlian from Indonesia, Alessandro Sink from Italy, Docs Collective of Germany, Valentin Göppel from Germany, Kiana Hieri from Canada, Nanna Hetmann from Germany, Leonard Pongo from Belgium, Victoria Beller from Mexico , and Colombia’s Village Felipe. ,

Nearly 60 photography experts from 34 countries, including curators, gallery managers, art directors, picture editors and photographers, submitted their entries for the LOBA 2022 Main Category.

These were then evaluated by a panel of five people, including Alessia Glaviano, Head of Global Photovogue and Director of the Photo Vogue Festival in Italy; Natalia Jimenez-Steward, photo editor at The Washington Post; Swiss photographer Dominic Nahr and recipient of the 2009 Leica Oscar Barnack Newcomer Award; Azu Nwagbogu, Founder and Director of the African Artists Foundation and Lagosphoto Festival in Nigeria, and Karin Rehn-Kaufman, Art Director and Chief Representative of Leica Galleries International.

The winner of LOBA receives $40,000 and Leica camera equipment worth $10,000. Both the winning and shortlisted photos will form part of a larger touring exhibition, which will open in Wetzlar, Germany, in October 2022.