Russian photographer Evgenia Arbugaeva documents Time’s Person of the Year 2019: Greta Thunberg

The young Swedish activist has been named Time magazine's Person of the Year. For the cover, Evgenia Arbugaeva photographs a stoic Greta on the Portuguese shore as she defiantly stares into the distance.

12 December 2019
Reading Time
2 minute read

Last night (11 December), it was announced that teenage activist Greta Thunberg is Time magazine’s Person of the Year. An annual issue released by the magazine, it’s an accolade given to a person, group, idea, or object that has made a big impact on the world that year – for better or for worse. Greta began a global movement back in August 2018 when she started skipping school in favour of protesting climate inaction outside the Swedish Parliament. In her wake, some 4 million people joined the global climate strike on 20 September 2019; a movement making her more than worthy of 2019’s Person of the Year.

Time’s cover sees the 16-year-old standing upon the shore, on a rock. A wave crashes to her lefthand side as she wistfully (yet defiantly) stares into the distance. The photograph was taken in Lisbon on 4 December, one day after she returned from to Europe by sailboat, where she was met by a large gathering of press and fans, largely young climate activists like herself. This poignant image was taken by Evgenia Arbugaeva, a photojournalist who grew up in the Russian Arctic.

In an interview with Karl Vick, published on Time yesterday, Evgenia says: “When Time asked me to photograph Greta, I was thinking how can I make a portrait that combines gentleness and at the same time courage. How do I capture the intense, focused gaze inwards as well as outwards, which I feel is characteristic of Greta… It was not an easy task.”

Evgenia’s wider portfolio consists of dramatic and meditative images of the Arctic which capture the area’s peaceful yet monumental vastness. When creating her portrait of Greta, however, she turned to the classics, referencing “Botticelli, Monet, Norse mythology, tarot cards, and romantic period art.” In turn, she has depicted the young activist in a stoic and considered pose, reflective of Greta’s gravitas, impact and hopes for a better future.

You can read the full interview with Greta, by Charlotte Alter, Suyin Hayes and Justin Worland over on Time.

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About the Author

Ruby Boddington

Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor. Get in contact with Ruby about ideas you may have for long-form stories on the site.

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