Visa pour l’Image, currently taking place in Perpignan, France, is the world’s most prestigious photojournalism festival, where photographers and editors come to network, and the public get to experience stunning photo exhibitions in city’s historic buildings. This year, Visa pour l’Image recognised Greenpeace photographers Pierre Gleizes and Jiri Rezac for their stories from the environmental frontline, by showcasing their work during the festival’s nightly screenings.

Each night during Visa’s “professional week”, thousands of people gather to watch massive outdoor projections, award ceremonies and presentations at Perpignan’s Campo Santo cathedral, and at Place de la République. Shocking, horrifying, sobering, and inspiring – the gritty photographs of the multiple Arabic revolutions, the Tsunami devastation in Japan, the effects of environmetal issues and conflcits, and more subtle stories of daily life - all constantly reminding us of the importance of independent media around the world

During the screenings, Visa pour l’Image honoured the 30-year relationship between French photographer Pierre Gleizes and Greenpeace, by projecting a punchy, in-depth retrospective of Pierre’s photo activism, ranging from early campaigns to stop whaling, the dramatic and successful campaigns to block nuclear waste from being dumped at sea and to stop nuclear testing in the Pacific - right up to Pierre’s more recent images of pirate fishing off West Africa and protests against nuclear transports.

From the Visa projection: A barrel of radioactive waste stikes a Greenpeace inflatable © Pierre Gleizes/Greenpeace

Pierre, who was present in Perpignan, was on hand to sign copies of his lovely new book, Rainbow Warrior mon amour: Trente ans de photos aux côtés de Greenpeace (Rainbow Warrior Mon Amour: 30 years of photos with Greenpeace). Check out this video about Pierre and his work with Greenpeace.

Pierre Gleizes with his new book, Rainbow Warrior Mon Amour, and on the right, John Novis
Pierre Gleizes with his new book, Rainbow Warrior Mon Amour, and on the right, John Novis

Jiri Rezac was also in town – his Greenpeace-commissioned photographs of the environmental devastation caused by the Canadian tar sands, were also featured on the big screen. Jiri’s “Tarnished Earth” work is damning reminder of how we are recklessly willing to destroy pristine wilderness in our quest for oil. The reverberations caused by the controversial tar sands in Alberta – where swathes of Canadian forest are destroyed and rivers polluted in order to extract oil - are international. In recent days, more than 1,250 people have been arrested in Washington DC for protesting against a pipeline carrying oil from the tar sands to the United States. Read Jiri's blog about Visa here, and watch the slideshow here.

Seismic Line and Alberta Tar Sands Mine, Canada. © Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace
Seismic Line and Alberta Tar Sands Mine, Canada. © Jiri Rezac/Greenpeace

This isn’t the first year that Visa pour l’Image has recognised the work of Greenpeace photographers. Back in 1999, Visa gave Greenpeace gave a big feature screening, with an interview on stage with myself, a press conference and stand in the conference HQ.

Then in 2010 the stunning Arctic images of Nick Cobbing – made during a 2009 Greenpeace expedition were shown during the night screenings, as were Lu Guang’s tragic images of the death of a firefighter during China’s Dalian oil spill, which he was covering for Greenpeace. Both photographers have also received World Press Photo awards for their work.

In Perpignan, we also officially rolled out the Greenpeace Images HD application for the iPad; free to download, the Images app is a way of sharing work of photographers who are not only bearing witness, but also working to expose and put a stop to environmental crimes. The iPad app is not only a way to communicate the threats our planet faces, but to inspire people to get involved in countering these threats and to take the initiative in finding solutions. Greenpeace will be marking its 40th birthday this year - to celebrate this, the app also contains some fantastic images going right back to 1971, when the first Greenpeace expedition set sail to stop nuclear weapons testing in Alaska's Aleutian Islands.

Download the Greenpeace Images app

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