Paolo Pellegrin

by Grazia Neri

My agency will be 35 years old this year and among many of my experiences connected with photography and life stories, AIDS and its coverage is certainly one of the most touching and impressive.

I remember by heart Alon Reininger's pictures for example, which I consider one of the greatest pieces of documentary photography of the whole last century, or that last picture shot of actor Rock Hudson in a French Festival by Philippe Ledru (which was his last important public appearance with that devastated face, really shocking the public opinion for the first time). As an editor, it has been impossible for me to look at the photo essays and pictures that have covered the AIDS epidemic without being deeply and intimately connected with them and with the use of photography in this delicate and emotional situation. For instance Hervé Guibert's pictures and texts are among the most moving documents on the disease I can remember. The roll call of photographers in this month's Digital Journalist bears witness to the dedication these people brought to telling the world of the devastating effects of the epidemic.

In the beginning the focus seemed to be so much on the United States and very little on Europe or on the other countries. Now, however, as the disease spreads its horrific web through Africa, and on to India and China, here thedeath toll is estimated to climb to over 450 million people, photographers are continuing to photograph on the front lines of this terrible new kind of war.

Italian photojournalist Paolo Pellegrin is represented here with pictures from two of his important bodies of work, from Uganda and Cambodia. Paolo's pictures show the concern the conscience of living through one of the worst plagues in the world and still trying to keep a kind of dignity to avoid that awful "guilty feeling" which has been spreading since the birth of this terrible disease.

Grazia Neri
Contributing Editor

Italian photographer was born in Rome in 1964, and works with Agence VU and Grazia Neri. In 1995 his reportage on AIDS in Uganda was awarded with the first Prize at World Press Photo competition in the category "Daily Life" and in 1996 he was nominated as Kodak Young Photographer. He has covered political and social crisis in Bosnia, Cambodia, Kossovo, former U.S.S.R. Since 1995 he has been working on a long-time project documenting the HIV pandemic in developing countries. In 1997 he was awarded with the first prize at the Gijon Photofestival for his work on Bosnia. In 1999 he received the third prize in the portrait category at World Press Photo competition. In 2000 he won both the Leica Prize and Hasselblad Grant.