Galen Brown

In July 2008, photographer Galen Brown and a colleague were covering a land dispute in the small town of Tirua in the Bio Bio region of Chile. They hired a local pilot to take them up in his puddle-jumper to survey the area. “We didn’t have to tell him what we were looking for,” says Galen. “He took us here, where right below us was a clearing made by logging extraction operations, and a watchtower.” The tower had been built after two Mapuche men had been caught removing trees from the area now owned
by a private logging company. To this day, the Mapuche are still fighting for their land.
“As we flew over, I snapped several photos, and I remember thinking ‘I don’t believe I’m actually seeing this,’” says Galen. “As a direct result of this photo, I became devoted to learning more about conservation, land use and indigenous history.”

Toronto-born artist Galen Brown began his career as a photojournalist and spent four months photographing Chilean student protests over education laws reminiscent of the Pinochet era, as well as land dispute issues between the indigenous Mapuche peoples and forestry companies in southern Chile. Having made the transition to video in 2010 while collaborating with ArtCorps’s community artists in Central America, his video productions to date share the social and political concerns of his earlier photographic work. In 2011, Untitled: Santiago, Chile, a photo essay chronicling the volatility of student protests against the Chilean education system, was published in the Owen Wister Review. The same year Galen was co-recipient of a FACTOR grant.
He is now working closely with various groups in Canada documenting various issues such as climate change adaptation, agriculture, conservation and urban planning.