Canadian, born 1963
Benoit Aquin‘s surreal color photographs of The Chinese Dust Bowl explore the impact of this great environmental disaster on people, landscape, and community. With a subdued, ochre palette and atmospheric haze, his images capture the otherworldly beauty of the arid 400,000 square mile wasteland, forged in the grasslands by unsustainable agrarian practices. In China, three hundred million people are affected by the dust storms which rage here, but the problem is not local: winds carry the barren topsoil as far as North America. Aquin regards this series as a call to awareness about “scarce water resources, desertification, and ecological refugees in China.”
Aquin’s achievements in photographing the significant environmental and political issues of the day have been recognized with prestigious awards and honors; He was the winner of the Prix Pictet 2008, the premier photographic award in sustainability messages, and featured in a subsequent exhibition at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo. His work is held by several esteemed collections, including the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa; the Musée National de Beaux-Arts due Quebec, Quebec City; and the National Archives of Canada, Ottawa.