Larry Towell spent years documenting Native American issues in Canada and the US. In February 2017, when it was announced the Army Corps of Engineers would shut down protests against the construction of the oil pipeline, Towell made his third trip to the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camps at Standing Rock. The following day, the deadline to evacuate the Oceti Sakowin camp, most of the remaining demonstrators bid tearful farewells to their fellow activists, Water Protectors. Some decided to remain and later that afternoon authorities raided the camp to round up journalists, who’d been previously ordered to leave the area. On Thursday 23rd, police trucks and construction vehicles entered the camp, forcing the holdouts to flea onto the frozen Cannonball River.

If there's one theme that connects all my work, I think it's that of landlessness; how land makes people into who they are and what happens to them when they lose it and thus lose their identities

Larry Towell
© Larry Towell | Magnum Photos

Larry Towell's experience as a poet and a folk musician have done much to shape his personal style. The son of a car repairman, Towell grew up in a large family in rural Ontario, Canada. During studies in visual arts at Toronto’s York University, he was given a camera and taught how to process black and white film.

In 1984, he became a freelance photographer and writer focusing on the dispossessed, exile and peasant rebellion. Significant bodies of work include the Nicaraguan Contra war, the relatives of the disappeared in Guatemala, ten years of reportage in El Salvador, and an 11-year project on the Mennonite migrant workers of Mexico. He became a Magnum nominee in 1988 and a full member in 1993.

© Larry Towell | Magnum Photos

Get Magnum news and updates directly to your inbox

Stay in touch
Monthly updates on the latest assignments, photographer projects and collaborations with brands.
Know when our quarterly 7-day square print sale is coming.
Learn about online and offline exhibitions, photography fairs, gallery events, plus fine print news and activities, on a monthly basis.
Get fortnightly tips and advice articles, find out about the latest workshops, free online events and on-demand courses.
Be the first to know about recent Magnum Shop drops. From new books and limited editions, to special offers, you can find it all on the weekly Magnum Shop newsletter.
Stay up to date every Thursday with Magnum photographers’ activities, new work, stories published on the Magnum website, and the latest offerings from our shop.