“My series The Chinese Dust Bowl shows just what happens when we mismanage the environment. These issues should not just be seen in the context of one country, they are global issues. They affect us all. And as a global population, we must solve them” 2010
Benoit Aquin has a long established career, both nationally and internationally, as a socially concerned documentary photographer.
His many projects include the effects of global warming in the Canadian north, the dumping of pesticides in Nicaragua, the Oka crisis, an extended document on hunting, daily life in Haiti, and the desertification of the Chinese interior. From 1989 to 2001, Aquin worked as staff photographer for Voir and Hour, as well as free lancing for Macleans, Canadian Geographic, Time, Wired, L’Actualité, Recto Verso and En Route. His influences are varied, from photographer John Max, to writer and environmentalist Lester Brown and the Le Monde journalist Hervé Kempf.
The Chinese Dust Bowl Series follows the former Silk Road in northern China. An area equivalent to more than half of Canada’s farmland, it has the dubious reputation of being the world’s largest region of productive land to be converted into dust. Loss of vegetation has created an environmental disaster, with top soil being blown in huge storms over northern Chinese cities, including Beijing. Images such as Tempête à Hongsibao, Chine 2007 reflect the drama of the disaster.
In 2008, Aquin won the Prix Pictet, a substantial photography prize sponsored by the Swiss bank Pictet et Cie. The Prix Pictet, presented to Aquin by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, focuses on environmentally concerned photography.