By Jacqueline McKay
The dramatic images that filled the Allen Lambert Galleria this month were enough to stop viewers in their tracks — and one of those graphic photographs belonged to Dominic Nahr, a 2008 Ryerson School of Image Arts graduate.
The photo shows a Sudan Armed Forces soldier dead, face down in a pool of oil from a leaking factory in Heglig, South Sudan.
Of 54 World Press Photo Context prizewinners on display in the exhibit, Nahr won the third-place prize for a single photo in the general news category.
In an email to The Eyeopener, Nahr described his entry into Sudan in 2012, when he took the photo.
“That day will always stick in my mind as I crossed illegally into Sudan with the invading South Sudanese military forces,” he said. “Scattered along the frontline there were dozens of burned, dismembered bodies of fighters. The situation was tense with hundreds of soldiers moving further up the lines while enemy planes dropped bombs in our area.
“Just as I was leaving I saw an oil facility leaking. I walked up to the site and then noticed all of the bodies, probably using the metal pipes as cover. I had taken an image of a dead soldier draped with oil with the oil facility behind him* —the war in one picture. TIME magazine ran that image as their opener for the story I was working on.
“[That] image was clear and very literal. This image was almost like a dream — even more like a nightmare. The very reflective oil made the body seem like it was floating in the sky. The cost of an endless war.”
Nahr, born in Switzerland and raised in Hong Kong, has won many awards, including the first-place prize in the 2012 Pictures of the Year International awards, the Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award, second place in Sony World Photography award. He was also listed in PDN Magazine’s “Top 30 Under 30” photographers.
He currently lives in Nairobi, Kenya, where he works as a freelance photographer for Time. He’s also worked for National Geographic, The New Yorker, and the Wall Street Journal.
World Press Photo is an independent, non-profit organization started in 1955. Based out of Amsterdam, the foundation awards outstanding photojournalism and hosts exhibitions in more than 100 cities across 45 countries that display the top three winners and honourable mentions in each of the nine categories.
* The photo described here was used on page 12 the Oct. 23 issue and mistakenly referred to as the award-winning photograph. The Eyeopener regrets the error. (But hey, it’s an amazing photo, too.)