Daniel Beltrá Spill
The oil-stained, blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico swirl in my mind’s eye like a grotesque painting. I worked off the coast of Louisiana during the spill, where approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil were released into the Gulf waters. The resulting photographs were taken from three thousand feet above, giving perspective to the environmental devastation below.
On 20 April 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico killing eleven crewmen and injuring seventeen, becoming the world’s largest marine oil spill. More than 600 miles of coastline were affected and show lingering signs of oil and dispersant. Layers of crude oil are still spread thick on the ocean floor, radiating far from the wellhead site. Scientists have determined that up to 75 per cent of the oil from BP’s disaster remains in the Gulf environment.
The Spill series is a first-hand account of this tragedy, and reveals our society’s obsessive dependence on petroleum. Every day in the United States, we use four times the volume of the oil released into the Gulf.
Oil is the lifeblood of America’s economy, says the US Department of Energy website; this statement has become an ironic metaphor for our current culture of consumption.
About the photographer
1964, Madrid, Spain
Seattle, United States
Daniel Beltrá began his photographic career with the Spanish National Agency, EFE, and for the next decade, he covered hard news and featured stories as a correspondent in Madrid for the French photo agency Gamma. In 1990, Beltrá began his collaboration with Greenpeace, becoming one of their main assignment photographers. Beltrá’s work has taken him to all seven continents, including expeditions to the Brazilian Amazon, the Arctic, the Southern Oceans and the Patagonian ice fields. He is a fellow with the International League of Conservation Photographers and regularly volunteers in conservation expeditions worldwide.
His work has been recognised with many international awards, including the World Press Photo in 2006 and 2007, the inaugural Global Vision Award from POYi in 2008, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year in 2011 and the Lucie Award, Deeper Perspective Photographer of the Year in 2011. His book Rainforests: Lifebelt for an Endangered Planet won the Prince’s Rainforest Project Award in 2009. The images from the book were exhibited in Paris, Berlin and London and HRH The Prince of Wales presented the book to world leaders at the Copenhagen Climate Change summit that same year.
His work has been featured throughout the world including The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, National Geographic, The New York Times, Le Monde and El País. His work has also been featured in many books on the environment and climate change. His most recent book Spill, published by Catherine Edelman Gallery, is a chronicle of two months of photographing the Deepwater Horizon Gulf Oil spill. The images from Spill have been shown in galleries throughout the world, most recently at the Roca Gallery, Madrid.
Luc Delahaye, Various works, 2008 – 2011
Robert Adams, Turning Back, 1999-2001
Daniel Beltrá, Spill, 2010
Mohamed Bourouissa, Périphérique, 2005-2008
Philippe Chancel, Fukushima: The Irresistible Power of Nature, 2011
Edmund Clark, Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out, 2009
Carl De Keyzer, Moments Before the Flood, 2009-2011
Rena Effendi, Still Life in the Zone, 2010
Jacqueline Hassink, Arab Domains, 2005-2006
An-My Lê, 29 Palms, 2003
Joel Sternfeld, When it Changed, 2005
Guy Tillim, Congo Democratic, 1997-2006