Andrew McConnell was born in Ireland and began his career as a press photographer working for a daily newspaper in Belfast during the closing stages of the conflict in Northern Ireland and the transition to peace.Today his works focuses on themes of displacement, post-conflict issues, and the environment. He has worked in-depth on issues such as the Syrian refugee crisis, e-waste in Ghana, the surfers of the Gaza strip, and the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, for which he won the Luis Valtueña Humanitarian Photography Award. In 2009 he completed a series on the forgotten Sahrawi people of Western Sahara, for which he was awarded 1st place in the portrait story category of the World Press Photo awards. A follow-up project on the issue of urban refugees was carried out in 8 cities worldwide and resulted in exhibitions in London and New York.

rjkkf; vfrrjytkk«Hidden lives» is a photo series about the refugees who try to build their future in big cities.

Awards
Won two 1st place prizes at the World Press Photo Awards, 4 National Press Photographers Association awards, including the prestigious Best of Show, and 2 Sony World Photography Awards.

Publications
His images have appeared worldwide in publications such as National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Time, New York Times, Der Spiegel, Stern, Le Monde, and the Sunday Times Magazine. 

2Andrew McConnell (on the left) on the shooting of the prohect RE-ENTRY.

Whitin the framework of the International Media-Forum «Dialogue of Cultures» in the State Hermitage Museum Andrew is going to present his ongoing photo project «Re-entry».

Baikonur, in Kazakhstan, is now the only place in the world from which cosmonauts are sent into space. Every three months, out on the Kazakh steppe a ritual happens. Men and women return from orbit and re-encounter their home planet. 

Space travel began with Yuri Gagarin’s flight into the same wide skies in 1961. Over the years the regular repeated launches and re-entries have become, in their way, ordinary. Few people come to watch. However in the collective history of humanity there are few places more significant, because no matter where we go in the cosmos, the beginning will always irrevocably be traced back here, to this windswept plain in Central Asia. 

3A marker on the steppe points the way to the landing site of Soyuz 11, where three cosmonauts lost their lives in 1971 when the capsule depressurised during preparations for reentry, near Zhezkazghan, in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz 11 crew members were Georgy DobrovolskyVladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev

Space travel is changing quickly and in many ways these images already feel nostalgic. I see what I’m documenting here as the end of the beginning, a new chapter of space exploration feels like it is just around the corner.

Every returning cosmonaut is, in some way, reborn to the world, and the life that it contains. Every occasion is a part miracle: a statement of what humans can do, and defy. And so every three months, another parachute opens, another capsule falls, landing on the plain that is its own changing world of passing seasons and bitter snow, shepherds and shallow soil. There is a circularity to life on the steppe, and the ritual of re-entry has joined it. 

4Astronauts Tim Peake of ESA, Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, and Tim Kopra of NASA, prepare to leave Baikonur to board Soyuz rocket TMA-19M for launch to the International Space station, in Kazakhstan.

5Soyuz TMA-19M launches to the International Space Station from Launch Pad One, in Baikonur. On board are cosmonauts Tim Peake of ESA, Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos, and Tim Kopra of NASA.

The steppe is very sparsely populated, only a few small villages dot the landscape. The people living here are ethnic Kazakhs, descendants of the nomads who roamed these lands for centuries. They live as farmers maintaining herds of horses and cattle. Occasionally the steppe dwellers will show up at a Soyuz landing, curious about this strange event taking place in their back yard. 

7A shepherd named Aten moves his flock of sheep through the frozen steppe landscape, near Temirtau, in Kazakhstan. 

The terrain is flat and unchanging, like a giant grass desert. The astronauts are recovered by air and ground crews from the Russian space agency Roscosmos, with the help of the Russian Air Force. They are a mix of nationalities, depending on the expedition they can be from NASA, Roscosmos, ESA (European Space Agency), or JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency).

6The Soyuz MS-04 descent module carrying cosmonauts Fyodor Yurchikhin of Roscosmos, and Jack Fischer and Peggy Whitson of NASA, lands on the scorched Kazakh steppe near Zhezkazghan.

8Cosmonaut Gennady Padalka returns to Earth on Soyuz TMA-16M and sets the world record for the most time spent in space. Padalka first went to space in 1998 launching to the MIR space station, during his career he made five space flights and spent a total of 879 days in orbit.

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The project has been ongoing for 3 years now and at it’s heart are the big themes: humanity, the past, the future, our place in the world and our destiny as a species. I can think of nothing more important at this point in our existence. Ultimately the work poses a serious of questions; what effect are we having on our home world? Will we continue to inhabit it? Does our destiny lie on other worlds?