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Select Images from Annenberg Space for Photography - WATER: Our Thirsty World

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​In partnership with The Annenberg Space for Photography to present five television specials that showcase the breadth of artistic works displayed in recent exhibitions at the Photography Space. 

Artbound Presents Annenberg Space for Photography "WATER: Our Thirsty World," looking at the precarious state of the world's fresh water. This episode is comprised of images from National Geographic's award-winning photographers, including Jonas Bendiksen, Elizabeth Krist, Lynn Johnson, Ken Geiger, Sarah Leen, Kathy Moran, Joel Sartore, Edward Burtynsky, and David Griffin.

"Annenberg Space for Photography - WATER: Our Thirsty World" debuted Tuesday, April 21, on KCET-TV.

Water is a finite resource, but its ubiquity has made it near invisible to us. "Water is our most precious resource. It makes up most of this planet, most of our bodies too. When some things are around us, it is easy to take it for granted," says Wallis Annenberg, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation.

In a collaboration with National Geographic Magazine, the Annenberg Space for Photography exhibited "WATER: Our Thirsty World," which examined water's role in all aspects of our lives -- from a resource needed for our survival to a symbolic element in celebrations. The exhibit coincided with the release of National Geographic's April 2010 issue on the precarious state of water.

Scouring the world for new perspectives on water, National Geographic's award-winning photographers uncover the tenuous relationship of water to all living things on this planet, and how this diminishing resource has impacted communities near and abroad.


Jonas Bendiksen

Jonas Bendiksen
Jonas Bendiksen
Photo by Jonas Bendiksen
Photo by Jonas Bendiksen

Bendiksen began his career as a 19-year-old intern for Magnum Photos, a photographic co-op run by photographers, which provides images to press, publishers, and media across the world. After a time, he decided to leave the confines of the office to pursue his own photojournalism work. In the years since then, Bendiksen has photographed the fringes of former Soviet Union and the innards of the world's slums. In this exhibition, Bendiksen's grand photographs capture the shrinking glaciers of the Tibetan plateau, from which nearly all of Asia's rivers originate.

"A story often starts with a question. Photography is a good medium for asking those questions. Mental stories are often tricky because they can be very hard to visualize."


Elizabeth Krist

Elizabeth Krist
Elizabeth Krist

Krist is the Photo Editor for Bendiksen's "The Big Melt." She previously worked at Fortune and Asia before joining the magazine. She also curated the "Women of Vision" exhibition, which highlighted women behind the lens.

"That's what so terrifying about this story. When those glaciers melt almost two billion people aren't going to have a water supply, but in the short term other people have much greater amount of water."


Lynn Johnson

Lynn Johnson
Lynn Johnson
Photo by Lynn Johnson
Photo by Lynn Johnson

Johnson discovered photography in high school, through by Dorothea Lange and other documentary photographers who had worked for the Farm Security Administration. Inspired by their work, Johnson pursued photography eventually becoming known for her intense stories covering families struggling with AIDS, children coping with brain death of their mother and guerillas in Vietnam.

"Photography can be a very powerful voice for people who are struggling. I always a real sense of responsibility when I go into the field because I feel like I'm an advocate for the people that I meet. I am telling their story."


Ken Geiger

Ken Geiger
Ken Geiger

After 24 years in newspaper journalism, Ken Geiger signed on to National Geographic magazine. He began his journalism career at the Austin American-Statesman in 1980 after an education on photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology. Geiger has covered terrorism in the Punjab, the 1990 post Sandinista election in Nicaragua, four Olympic games. He also won the 1993 Pulitzer for news photography.

"A photographer has a story to tell and is willing to take a stand with his photography and portray the region a region that's still in conflict. Who has water? Who doesn't have water? Who's that water serving? This is photography as a journalistic tool."


Sarah Leen

Sarah Leen
Sarah Leen
Photo from "Sacred Waters"
Photo from "Sacred Waters"

After 27 years as a freelance photographer regularly contributing to the National Geographic Magazine, Leen eventually took on the photo editor job. Working freelance for the magazine, Leen has covered the U.S.-Canada border and the Kamchatka peninsula in Siberia to the Mexican volcano Popocatepetl and urban sprawl in the United States.

"You can't be just a great artist and not a good journalist. We have a story that has to be told and you have to find the images that will really help tell that story."


Kathy Moran

Kathy Moran
Kathy Moran
Photo from "Silent Streams"
Photo from "Silent Streams"

Moran is the magazine's first senior editor for natural history projects. She has edited more than 200 stories for the magazine, including stories on giant sequoias and birds of paradise. Her collaboration with a National Geographic-Wildlife Conservation Society led to the creation of Gabon's national park system and protection of more than ten percent of that county's land.

"Fresh water is a precious commodity and we're all competing for it--not just with our own species. We're competing directly with fish and amphibians for that very same resource."


Joel Sartore

Joel Sartore
Joel Sartore

Sartore first became enamored of the natural world by learning of the passenger pigeon from his mother's Time-Life picture books. In his 20 years working with National Geographic magazine, he's documented endangered species and landscapes and traveled to every continent in the world including the High Arctic and Antarctic.

"My big job is to get people to care that not only looks cute but something that doesn't even have eyes. How do we get people to care about a mussel? It's very very difficult to make a sexy, grabby picture of a mussel."


Edward Burtynsky

Edward Burtynsky
Edward Burtynsky
Photo from "California's Pipe Dream"
Photo from "California's Pipe Dream"

Burtynsky is a well-respected Canadian photographer known for his depictions of large-scale industrial landscapes, which are included in the collections of over sixty museums around the world including National Gallery of Canada, the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in California. Influenced by his early exposure to the sites and images of the General Motors plant in his hometown, his images uncover human systems inflicted on natural landscapes.

"How do you begin to tell a water story in California? I had to show the scale of water in that landscape. All of my techniques working from an elevated perspective working fro the air came into play."


David Griffin

David Griffin
David Griffin

Griffin was formerly the Director of Photography of National Geographic magazine, after which he took on the role of Visuals Editor for the Washington Post. He now runs DGriffinStudio, which specializes in publication design and editing, branding design and strategy, and visual media consulting.

"Photographers are journalists but they're also artists. A great photographer doesn't actually photograph the sea. They photograph the emotion what they're feeling of that sea. That makes a really great photograph."

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