Artist talk: Gideon Mendel on photographing the climate crisis

2nd May 2023

Throughout his 40-year career, photographer Gideon Mendel has engaged with contemporary social issues of global concern to create visceral and personal work. In this artist talk he’ll discuss his recent projects Burning World and Drowning World, and why he puts the lives and voices of the people who have been affected by climate change centre frame. Selected works from these two series will be shown at the ARTCO Gallery booth at Photo London 2023. Here Gideon will talk to director and co-founder of GOST Books Stuart Smith about the books he has published with the independent photobook publishers and the exciting future projects they are planning.


Gideon Mendel’s intimate style of image-making and long-term commitment to socially engaged projects has earned international recognition. Born in Johannesburg in 1959, Mendel began his career as a news and ‘struggle’ photographer documenting the final years of apartheid. This experience marked him deeply, and much of his subsequent work has been engaged with the key issues facing his generation. In 1991 he moved to London, and continued to respond to global concerns, especially HIV/ AIDS. Since 2007, using stills and video, Mendel has been working on Drowning World; an art and advocacy project about flooding that is his personal response to our climate crisis. His work has been widely published in magazines and newspapers including National Geographic, Geo and the Guardian Weekend. His images have been used in climate protests while his photographs; installations and video pieces are increasingly seen in gallery and museum contexts. Mendel has received the inaugural Jackson Pollock Prize for Creativity and the Greenpeace Photo Award. Shortlisted for the Prix Pictet in 2015 and 2019, he has also received the Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography, the Amnesty International Media Award, and six World Press awards. Mendel has in recent years extended his work on global warming to include the element of fire with his Burning World project. He currently has a major street display of his work on Fire and Flood in the Soho Photographers Quarter, part of The Photographers Gallery and his video installation, The Ward Revisited was recently presented in the Fitzrovia Chapel.



Stuart Smith is Director of GOST Books, an independent visual arts and photography publisher based in London. GOST publishes a diverse range of subject matters and design: from an exploration of the fake news capital of Veles, documentation of costumes worn during festivals on the islands of the Venetian lagoon, impactful photographs of the repercussions of the global reliance on fossil fuels, to psychedelic photographs documenting the home of the late writer, Hunter S. Thompson. GOST aims to not only provide a platform for the work of emerging artists but contribute to print legacies of masters in the medium, including Elliott Erwitt, Mark Power and Larry Towell.   He began his career at the Architectural Association and then moved to Phaidon Press, before establishing SMITH in 1994 and GOST in 2013.