Distant Early Warning
11 Jan, 2023
The project Distant Early Warning is a documentary photography project which examines the evolving state of the militarization of the Arctic. The geopolitical changes in the region have been exacerbated by the warming of the planet. Part of the security narrative is driven by the imagined idea that once the polar ice cap melts due to climate change, once inaccessible natural resources such as oil, gas, mining, and new shipping routes will become part of a new Arctic economy. The result is that many countries that desire new economic opportunities want to stake new claims in the polar region. For me, as a Canadian who’s country sits mostly in the sub and high Arctic, the polar region is about our imaginations. It's often understood in the South through a map, cliché images of icebergs, animals, outdated stereotypes of indigenous people or scientific statistics that are unrelatable. But it can also be a blank slate for invented narratives that suit people’s fantasies of what they want the Arctic to be including one where the military is used to seize and control territory.
Louie Palu is a Canadian photographer and filmmaker whose work has examined social political issues, such as human rights, race, conflict, and natural resource extraction. His work has been selected for a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, Arnold Newman Prize and World Press Photo Award. He has examined topics such as the drug war in Mexico, conflicts in Afghanistan and Ukraine, Guantanamo Bay and changing geopolitics in the Arctic. Based in Washington D.C. he has been focused on an ongoing in-depth project since 2019 covering U.S. politics through the final year of the Trump presidency including the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and its aftermath. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, National Geographic, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, Le Figaro and El Pais. His work is held in numerous collections including the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and National Gallery of Art. His films have screened at numerous festivals including Hot Docs and the Munich Documentary Film Festival.