The Secretariat of the Minamata Convention presents the virtual exhibition of the first #MakeMercuryHistory Photo Contest. In late 2022, the Secretariat invited photographers from all over the world to participate and raise awareness of the ongoing global concern of toxic mercury. The three winners were announced on Earth Day 2023, recognizing their compelling images that shed light on mercury pollution, the environment, and the dedicated individuals working towards eliminating mercury.
In celebration of Environment Day 2023, the three winners were invited to participate in a special event on photography and mercury, hosted as part of the Minamata Online series. The session focused on the power of photography as a means to raise awareness among a wide audience who may not have fully grasped the extent of major environmental issues, emphasizing that everyone can contribute to the reduction of mercury pollution.
Winners and finalists will also have their photographs showcased in a physical photo exhibition at the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP-5) in Geneva, Switzerland. The exhibition will take place from 30 October to 3 November 2023, providing a platform to highlight their remarkable images to a diverse audience attending the meeting.
Winners and finalists
Elisabetta Zavoli from Italy won the "mercury pollution" category with her 2014 photograph titled "Not only miners" (Taliwang, West Sumbawa, Indonesia). The photo portrays the wife of Hariyanto, a young artisanal gold miner, holding a bottle full of metallic liquid mercury that was kept beside their bed in their small hut where they lived with their 20-month-old daughter. According to Zavoli, Hariyanto's family had migrated from Lombok to West Sumbawa to earn a better living through artisanal gold mining.
Florian Schulze's "Make Dental Amalgam History" (Berlin, Germany) won the category about "the people working to phase out mercury". The photo depicts activists from IG Umwelt-Zahnmedizin demonstrating in Berlin in 2018, due to the entry into force of the ban on dental amalgam use for children up to 15 years, pregnant and breastfeeding women in the European Union. Chanting "Dental amalgam is hazardous waste and has no place in the mouth!", protesters called for leading by example and directly introducing a general phase out.
Polish photographer Janusz Jurek won the "environment" category with his 2021 picture titled "Rest" (Heraklion, Crete, Greece). The photo shows a couple of sunbathers next to chimneys in the seashore of the outskirts of Heraklion. Jurek commented on the symbolic significance of the picture, with the industry taking the beach away from people who have only a small strip left, expanding its infrastructure and polluting nature and humans.
Below is the complete list of photo entries commended by the #MakeMercuryHistory Photo Contest 2022 is as follows:
- "Mercury pollution" category: Not only miners (Italy, Elisabetta Zavoli)
- "People working to phase out mercury" category: Make Dental Amalgam History (Germany, Florian Schulze)
- "Environment" category: Rest (Poland, Janusz Jurek)
- Hayedo de Balaustegi (Spain, Carlos Briones Bioslada)
- The risk factor (India, Kingshuk Chakravarty)
- Daily labor struggle in brick factory (Bangladesh, Mahmudul Hasan)
- My Land (Hungary, Alexandra Nemeth)
- Responsible gold extraction (Uganda, Betty Obbo)
- Woman collecting rain water from a hole (Bangladesh, Harun Or Rashid)
- Polluted Buriganga River (Bangladesh, Azim Khan Ronnie)
- In a line (India, Dibakar Roy)
- Daily workers (Bangladesh, Muhammad Saidul islam)
- Anthropogenic emissions of mercury (India, Sirsendu Gayen)
- Effects of environmental degradation (Bangladesh, Ananto Biswas Utshow)
- Shining danger (Kenya, James Wakibia)
The panel of judges for the contest comprised of Kenneth Davis (UNEP, Chemicals and Health Branch), Miranda Grant (UNEP, Communication Division), Claudia ten Have (Minamata Convention on Mercury), Christian Hofer (Global Environment Facility), and Nichole Sobecki (award-winning photographer).
More information on the photo contest and upcoming activities here.