Gideon Mendel was born on 31st  August 1959 Johannesburg, he obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Cape Town where he majored in African Economic History and Psychology. Gideon began photographing in the 1980s, during the final years of apartheid. This experience as a “struggle photographer”, documenting the brutality of the South African state’s response to peaceful protest, ‘marked him’ on some level and for much of his subsequent career his focus has been on responding to the key global issues facing his generation.Gideon is widely regarded as one of the world's leading contemporary photojournalists.

In the early 1990s he moved to the UK and embarked on his longitudinal project on the impact of HIV and AIDS. That photographic odyssey began in London where he documented life in an AIDS ward and expanded to Africa where he has worked with organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières, UNICEF, The Global Fund, Treatment Action Campaign, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, Action Aid and the Terrene Higgins Trust. The concluding and ongoing chapter, Through Positive Eyes, (produced with the UCLA Art and Global Health Center) is a global collaborative project in which Mendel’s role shifted from photographer to enabler, handing over the camera and image making to people living with HIV.

Since 2007 Mendel has been working on Drowning World, an art and advocacy project about flooding, his personal response to our climate crisis. The project has been noted for its complex narratives and unusual use of portraiture in extreme conditions. This endeavour has been seen in multiple contexts: it has been exhibited in many galleries, museums and photo festivals; it has been used in climate activism in collaboration with Greenpeace and Extinction Rebellion; and it has been published in magazines such as National Geographic, The Guardian Weekend Magazine, The Independent Magazine, The Sunday Times Magazine, Geo and Aperture Magazine.

Amongst many accolades Mendel has won the Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography, the Amnesty International Media Award, the Greenpeace Photo Award and he has been shortlisted for the Prix Pictet in 2015 (Disorder) and 2019 (Hope). In 2016 he was the first recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation’s “Pollock Prize for Creativity”.

Publications by Mendel

A Broken Landscape: HIV & AIDS in Africa Hardcover – April 1, 2003
A Broken Landscape: HIV & AIDS in Africa Hardcover – April 1, 2003

Awards & Exhibitions


2019       Shortlist for Prix Pictet 2019 (Hope)

2016       Greenpeace Photo Award 2016 (Jury Prize)

                Jackson Pollock Award for Creativity

2015       Shortlist for Prix Pictet 2015

                Pollock Krasner Foundation Grant

2002       Amnesty International Media Award for Photojournalism

2000       World Press Photo: Honorable Mention, Daily Life

1998       World Press Photo: 2nd Prize, Arts and Entertainment

1997       World Press Photo: 1st Prize, General News Stories

1997       World Press Photo: 1st Prize, Nature Stories

1997       Nikon Press Award: 1st Prize, Stories

1996       W. Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography

1995       World Press Photo: 2nd Prize, Nature Stories

1994       Pictures of the Year: 1st Prize, Photo Essay

1993       World Press Photo: 1st Prize, Sports Stories

1991       World Press Photo: 2nd Prize, People in the News stories

Solo Exhibitions

2019        Damage at The Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg

                Drowning World at Zone-I Gallery, France

                Drowning World at Festival du Regard, France

                Drowning World at Cortona on the Move, Italy

                Drowning World at Intime Literary Festival, Belgium

                Deluge at the Solidarités Music Festival, Belgium

                Burnt Memory (with Jonathan Pierredon) at La Chambre Noire, Arles

                Drowning World at the Oak Institute for Human Rights, ME, USA

2018        Drowning World (and Deluge) at the Kyotographie Festival, Japan

                Drowning World (and Deluge) at MOMA Jacksonville

                Deluge at PhotoFest Gallery, Houston

                Drowning World at the Ray Trienial, Frankfurt

                Drowning World at Horizonte Zingst, Germany

                Delugeat the Instuture of Humanities Gallery, UMICH

                Drowning World at the Landskrona Festival, Sweden.

2017        Drowning World at Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles

                Drowning World at WAM (Wits Art Museum), Johannesburg

                Drowning World at Kaunas Photo, Lithuania

                Dzhangal at Autograph ABP, London

                The Ward at the Fitzrovia Chapel, London

2016        Drowning World at ‘Points of Departure’, part of the Estuary Festival

                Drowning World at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU

                Drowning World at LagosPhoto 2016.

                Drowning World at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul

                Drowning World at the Jaipur Photo 2016

2015       Drowning World at the Lianzhou Foto Festival 2015

                Drowning World billboard exhibition in Paris prior to COP21

                Drowning World-UK, Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth.

                Drowning World (Video and Stills), Lianzhou Festival, China

                Drowning World, PhotoFestival Naarden, The Netherlands

2014        Drowning World, Queen’s Park station (Contacting Toronto Festival)

                Living in Yeoville Revisited, Gallery MOMO, Johannesburg.

                Drowning World ‘Picture Windows’ installation. ICP, New York.

                Drowning World, Tiwani Contemporary. London.

                Drowning World.‘After Photography’ festival in Montevideo

2012        Drowning World, Somerset House East Wing Gallery.

2009       Kingsmead Eyes with Kingsmead School, V&A Museum of Childhood.

2001       A Broken Landscape and Facing AIDS, Museum Africa.

               A Broken Landscape and Facing AIDS, SANG

2000       A Broken Landscape HIV and AIDS in Africa, Oxo Tower, London

1998       A Broken Landscape HIV and AIDS in Africa, The Spitalfields Gallery.

1997       A Broken Landscape HIV/AIDS in Africa. Perpignan Photo Festival

1993       Waiting for Rain: Drought in Zimbabwe. Perpignan Photo Festival

1989       Beloofde Land (Promised Land) Market Photo Gallery,Johannesburg.

1988       Living in Yeoville, Market Photo Gallery, Johannesburg.

1986       TheStruggle, Market Photo Gallery, Johannesburg.

Group Exhibitions

2019        50 Years Collection at Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles

                Through Positive Eyes at the Fowler Museum, Los Angeles

2018        The World to Come at the Harn Museum of Art, Florida.

                Coal and Ice at Fort Mason, San Francisco.

2017        Bending the Frame, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, New York.

                Through Positive Eyes. Durban Art Gallery and touring.

2016        Drowning World at The Edge of the Earth: Climate Change in Photography and Video. Ryerson Image Center, Toronto.

                Bending the Frame, Copenhagen Fotografisk Center and touring.

                The Water Chapters at ‘Weather or Not’ (The art of Climate Change) MU Gallery, Eindhoven, Holland.

                Drowning World at ‘What Next-Picture Tomorrow’ 38CC Gallery Delft

                Through Positive Eyes Collaboration Durban Art Gallery

2015        Prix Pictet, Disorder, Musée d’Art Moderne Paris and touring

2014        Lost World (video art) The Freer and Sackler Gallery, Washington DC

                Forecast Anderson Gallery at VCU

                Times of Struggle (UK and South Africa) Double Negative Galery

2013        ICP Triennail, A Different Kind of Order

2012        ICP, Haus der Kunst and touring, The Rise and Fall of Apartheid

                The ART Show, The Museum Africa and touring in South Africa.

                The ART Show Smithsonian Folklife Festival, The National Mall.

2010        Not Alone, The Castle, Iziko Museum of Cape Town

2009        Lucy Florence Art Gallery, Los Angeles, 13 Love Stories

2008        Make Art Stop AIDS The Fowler Museum in LA and touring

                Historias Positivas Cento Banimex, Mexico City

2006       The Body at Risk ICP, New York

1993       Positive Lives. Photographers Gallery, London


2019       Through Positive Eyes (with David Gere) Published by Aperture

2017       The Ward published by Trolley Books

2017       Dzhangal, published by GOST

2001       A Broken Landscape: HIV and AIDS in Africa(edited by Chris Boot)


2018       The Deluge five channel video installation part of Drowning World exhibitions at Kyotographie, MOCA Jacksonville, PhotoFest Gallery and the Institute of                   Humanities Galley, UMICH.

2017       Water Chaptersfilm part of the Drowning World exhibition in Arles

2016       Water Chaptersfilm part of Drowning Worldexhibition at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU.

2015       Water, Chapters 10 and 11 shown at the Plymouth Arts CentreDrowning World-UK show.

               Two-channel projection of Water, Chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9 facing Water, Chapters 10, 11 and 12 at the Lianzhou Festival, China.

2014       Water, Chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9 shown at the Freer and Sackler Gallery in Washington.

2013       Water, Chapters 6 and 7 shown at the ICP Triennial in New York and at Tiwani Contemporary in London.

2012       Curator Okwui Ewenzor commissioned Living in Yeoville for the Rise and Fall of Apartheid exhibition.

               Through Positive Eyes, a short film is shown as part of the opening plenary session of the 2012 Global HIV/AIDS Conference in Washington.

2011       Kingsmead Eyes Speak, a film made with pupils from Kingsmead Primary School shown at the Open Cities Documentary Festival and the East End Film                   Festival in London.

               Living with Floodwaters, a short video about flooding in Bangkok was shown on MSNBC and is voted a ‘staff pic’ on Vimeo.

2009       Kingsmead Eyes, a film made with pupils from Kingsmead Primary School was shown at the V&A Museum of Childhood and at the New York Photo                           Festival.

2005       AIDS orphans in Swaziland broadcast on BBC Newsnight.

2003       The Harsh Divide, a series of four short films about access to HIV Treatment broadcast on            Channel 4 in the UK.

Public Collections

                The International Centre of Photography (ICP), New York, USA
                Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA
                North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC, USA
                Davis Museum, Wellesley College, MA. USA.
                The South African National Gallery (SANG), South Africa
                Johannesburg Art Gallery (JAG) South Africa
                WAM (Wits Art Museum)
                Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles

Major Magazines and other Publications

The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Tacloban Disaster

2019      Aperture Magazine, The Watermarks from Drowning World

2018      Geo Magazine, Drowning World

               Foam Magazine, Drowning World

               The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Fires in California

               Fotografi (Norway), Drowning World

2017       6Mois, Drowning World

               The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Floods in Texas and Florida

2016       ArtAfrica, Filming But Drowning

               Vrij Nederland, Drowning World

               Musée Magazine,Issue Chaos. Drowning World

2015      National Geographic, Drowning World

              The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Migrants on Crossing the Med

              The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Drowning World

               Photoworld (China), Floodlines from Drowning World

2014      The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Three Feet High and Rising

2013      The Independent on Sunday Magazine, Drowning World

              The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Tacloban Disaster

09–12     Through Positive Eyes website:

2011       Kingsmead Eyes Speak website:

2010       The Guardian Weekend Magazine, Forgotten, But Not Gone

2009       Guardian Weekend, Proposition 8, Gay Couples in California

                Guardian Weekend, Think Positive

2008      German Geo, Memory Boxes for HIV/AIDS

               Guardian Weekend, Flooding in Haiti

2007      The Guardian G2, From Mother to Child

               Equal Treatment, Children and HIV

               The Guardian G2, A Tale of Two Floods

2006      The Guardian G2, Soweto, 30 Years After the Uprising

               The Guardian G2, The Memory Box Project

               Guardian Weekend, I Look Like my Mother (Pantomime Dames)

               Observer Magazine, Happy Days (A Hackney School)

2005       Guardian Weekend Magazine, Eight Women, One Voice

                National Geographic, Living With AIDS

               Guardian Weekend, An Answer in Africa

2004       Guardian Weekend The Children Left Behind

               Sunday Times Magazine Violated and Isolated (Rwanda Women HIV) Living Proof 10th Anniversary of the International HIV/AIDS Alliance

2003       Guardian Weekend, Salvation is Cheap

               Positive Nation, Facing AIDS in South Africa

               National Geographic, A Land Possessed (Land Issues in Zimbabwe)

 2002      HIV Treatment Activist Poster Set made with MSF in South Africa

               Guardian Weekend. Looking AIDS in the Face

 2001     Guardian Weekend Magazine, The Life Savers

 2000     Guardian Weekend, While the World Looks Away

               L’Express, Le Sida en Afrique

1999       Poster Campaign for the Terence Higgins Trust, Fighting Stigma

               POZ Magazine, AIDS in Africa

               Guardian Weekend Magazine, Israel, State of the Nation

1998      Reportage Magazine Booklet, A Broken Landscape

1997       Reportage Magazine. Troubled Waters

               Conde Naste Traveller. Lost Tribe of the Kalahari

               Focus Magazine, AIDS in Africa

1996       Grands Reportages, Koyasan, Japanese Village of Temples

               Independent Magazine, Days of Empire

               Fortune Magazine, Young Americans in Vietnam

               Independent on Sunday, The New Black Mayor of Ventersdorp

               Greenpeace Magazine (Germany). Senegalese Fishing Village

1995       Photographers International, British Photography

               Das Magazin, King Goodwill Zwelithini

               Reportage Magazine, Claremont Road

               Claremont Road, A Festival of Resistance Publication

               The Open Book. Publication for Crisis at Christmas

1994       Christian Aid Poster Campaign, We Believe in Life Before Death

               Reportage Magazine, De Aar Elections

1993       The Independent Magazine, A High School in Soweto

               Tempo, AIDS Ward, Middlesex Hospital

               Independent Magazine, An Everyday Occurrence (Zimbabwe HIV)

               Telegraph Magazine, The death of the Zambian Football Team

1992       Independent Magazine, Paradise Lost (Return after Removals)

               Tempo Magazine, The Crisis of Somalia

               Tempo Magazine, London’s Homeless

               Merian, Portrait of Johannesburg

1991       The Independent Magazine, The Black Jews of Israel

1989       Leadership Magazine, Promised Land

               The Observer Magazine, The British Who Choose South Africa

1988       Leadership Magazine, Living in Yeoville

1987       Stern Magazine, Forbidden Photos from South Africa

               Beyond the Barricades (Popular Resistance in South Africa)

1986       Leadership Magazine, Lines of Sight (Images of the Struggle)

Gideon Mendel, (2019), ‘ Gideon Mendel Biography’, from Gideon Mendel, [online], Available
at [Accessed: 27 September 2019]
Further reading list

Collections in the Archives