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Prior to photography, Donald Weber originally trained as an architect and worked with Rem Koolhaas’ Office for Metropolitan Architecture in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He is a photographer whose work explores the infrastructures of power in conjunction with the shadow states of globalised violence: societal, cultural, and economic.
Donald is the author of four books. His first, Bastard Eden, Our Chernobyl, won the Photo Lucida Book Prize and asked a simple question: what is daily life actually like, in a post-atomic world? Interrogations, about post-Soviet authority in Ukraine and Russia, has gone on to much acclaim; it was selected to be included in Martin Parr and Gerry Badger’s seminal The Photobook: A History, Volume III. Barricade: The EuroMaidan Revolt, is about the smoking language of revolution, made in collaboration with Ukrainian photographer Arthur Bondar. His latest, War Sand, tells the story of D-Day, from myth to micron.
He is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lange-Taylor Prize, the Duke and Duchess of York Prize, two World Press Photo awards and was a finalist for the prestigious Scotiabank Photography Prize.
His diverse photography projects have been exhibited as installations, exhibitions and screenings at festivals and galleries worldwide including the United Nations, Museum of the Army at Les Invalides in Paris, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Portland Museum of Art, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Royal Ontario Museum. Donald is noted for his teaching, public presentations and workshops. He has three times been named ‘master’ for World Press Photo’s Joop Swart Masterclass and chaired the Documentary category of the World Press Photo Awards in 2015.
He is represented by Circuit Gallery in Toronto and is on the faculty of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, The Netherlands in the Fine Art and Photography departments.
In episode 090, Donald discusses, among other things:
The PhD he just started
- Being told by a teacher that he sucked at photography
- Getting a job with Rem Koolhaas
- Moving to Ukraine and working on Chernobyl book
- War Sand
- The contributiuon of book editor Teun van der Heijden
- Whether photobooks need a ‘reset’.
- Photojournalism being at a point of transition
- Empathy and insecurity
“I was thinking of going into a photojournalism programme and I had two options. So I asked my teacher, ‘should I go here or here?’ And he looked at me with profound disgust and said ‘Neither. You suck as a photographer. I reccommend you don’t even study this.’ So that day I put away my camera and didn’t touch it again for another eight years or so.”
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