You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Mari Bastashevski’ tag.


A couple of months ago, I was contacted by the Magnum Foundation (MF) and asked to nominate six photographers who were pursuing projects of social importance. The MF was readying itself to disperse the 2013 Emergency Fund grants.

Today, in conjunction with TIME LightBox, the Magnum Foundation announced the 10 chosen photographers and their bodies of work:

Adam Nadel, Getting the Water Right
Alex Welsh, Home of the Brave
Giulio Piscitelli, From There to Here
Jehad Nga, Unmasking the Unthinkable
Mari Bastashevski, State Business
Olga Kravets, Radicalization
Rafal Milach, The Winners
Tanya Habjouqa, Occupied Pleasures
Philippe Dudouit, The Dynamics of Dust
Tomoko Kikuchi, The River

Two of my nominations won support. That’s a one-in-three strike rate; better than the current form of Blazers’ guard Wesley Matthews.

Nominations by myself and 14 others resulted in a pool of 100 photographers. From that 100, a three-person editorial committee – Philip Gourevitch, contributing writer for the New Yorker and former editor of Paris Review; Marc Kusnetz, former Senior Producer of NBC news and Consultant for Human Rights First; and Bob Dannin, former Editorial Director of Magnum Photos, and professor of history at Suffolk University – chose 10 projects.

10 grants have been dispersed. Regional photographers who live and work near their homes each received between $4,000 and $7,000, while the photographers working internationally secured grants between $7,500 and $12,000.

The EF 2013 grantees are a group of talented photographers, working internationally and within their home regions. All of the projects anticipate emerging issues that are underreported and show great promise to reveal new perspectives through a range of visual styles and approaches. [...] The selected projects address a range of pressing issues including human impact on one of the world’s most delicate ecosystems, systemic roots of violence in vulnerable communities, investigation of human rights abuses, and post-arab spring immigration flows,” says the Magnum Foundation.

Due to the sensitive nature of many of these projects, MF is being careful about the amount of information it shares publicly about the projects’ details and geography. We’ll just have to follow the photographers’ output closely.

Congratulations to all grantees.

See the work at TIME LightBox.

Above image: Tomoko Kikuchi, from the series The River.

From the series Shelter by Henk Wildschut. From a shortlist of six photographers’ projects, Wildschut won the 20,000 Euro DUTCH DOC AWARD.

Last weekend was the Dutch Doc Festival.

The theme for this years Dutch Doc Festival is the slow type of journalism, which “focuses on long-term projects that frequently involve a strong personal commitment and steer clear of passing fashions. Projects that revisit a (pre-documented) subject in a sequel or to create a new sequence in follow-ups after set periods of time.”

Photoblogging duo Mrs. Deane were involved in the festivities and asked other bloggers and I to pitch in. They emailed:

To underline the relevance of the online community in shaping the contemporary debate, we would like to invite a number of what we consider ‘distinct voices’ to contribute to the festival via our presence. We would tremendously appreciate it, if you could select three photographic projects that you feel should be considered when discussing what’s needed right now, what people should be looking at, what has been forgotten, or what new projects are leading the way in the field of documentary photography (especially the kind that is also moving within the confines of the fine art galleries).

Ignoring the last criteria, I unapolo­get­i­cally picked three very polit­i­cal projects. Mrs. Deane posted my response over there, and I cross-post here for good measure.


At a time when images rifle across our screens and reti­nas usu­ally serv­ing the pur­pose of illus­tra­tion or cor­po­rate pro­pa­ganda, the resolve of pho­tog­ra­phers to cre­ate bod­ies of work that deal with pol­i­tics — and often large nar­ra­tives too — can be read as either fool­hardy or enlight­ened. I’ll pick the latter.

Kevin Kunishi’s work in Nicaragua, Joao Pina’s doc­u­men­tary in South Amer­ica and Mari Bastashevski’s doc­u­ments from Chech­nya explore to varying degrees, “what has been for­got­ten.” Pho­tog­ra­phy is art and art should be polit­i­cal. If we con­sid­ered remem­ber­ing and mem­ory the first act in resis­tance against injus­tice then these three projects are high art.

From los restos de la rev­olu­cion © Kevin Kunishi

Kunishi’s Los Restos de la Rev­o­lu­tion is a poignant look at the remains and the sur­vivors of the Nicaraguan civil war. The por­traits fea­ture both for­mer San­danista rebels and former US-sponsored Con­tras. The mun­dane every­day details along­side deep psy­cho­log­i­cal scars fol­low­ing con­flict can be easy to turn ones back on when the bombs stop light­ing up the skies. And it is easy to for­get the US’s impe­r­ial pol­icy and med­dling in this con­flict. One won­ders if Afghanistan will ever have a cush­ion of a sim­i­lar period of peace­ful time to be part of a sim­i­lar look back at the expe­ri­ences and actions of its cit­i­zenry amid con­flict.

From File 126 © Mari Bastashevski

Mari Bastashevski’s File 126 doc­u­ments spaces pre­vi­ously inhab­ited by abductees who were “dis­ap­peared” dur­ing the Russian/Chechen con­flict. Bas­ta­shevski says, “the abducted are incor­po­real, as if they never were. They are no longer with the liv­ing, but they are not listed among the dead.” This is a par­tic­u­larly brave project given the state forces complicit in the depar­tures are still in power and their reac­tions to Bastashevski’s incon­ve­nient con­science are unknown.


From Oper­a­tion Con­dor © Joao Pina

Joao Pina’s Oper­a­tion Con­dor expan­sive work across South Amer­ica, wants to both doc­u­ment and “pro­vide evi­dence” for ongo­ing mem­ory and tri­als into cases of of extra­ju­di­cial tor­ture, kid­nap and mur­der by the var­i­ous Right-wing Mil­i­tary Jun­tas in South Amer­ica dur­ing the 1970s and 80s. Like Nicaragua [and Kunishi’s work] the US had a strong influenc­ing hand in either estab­lish­ing or prop­ping up many of these hard­line gov­ern­ments. The crimes of thirty years ago are barely on the radar of the West­ern world how­ever. How quick we for­get! Pina is cur­rently rais­ing money for the next phase of his project at

Colin and Joerg’s Selections

Mrs. Deane got a couple of other expert opinions.

Colin Pantall selected Third Floor Gallery, Timothy Archibald and Joseph Rock.

Joerg Colberg plumped for Brian Ulrich, Milton Rogovin and Reiner Gerritsen.

Mari Bastashevski photographs the rooms of victims of kidnap. “Abduction as a concealment tactic became prevalent in 2000 during the second Russian-Chechen conflict. The practice continues today. The rooms are preserved by family members who don’t know the fate of their loved ones,” says Bastashevski.

It’s no surprise that since her Open Society Grant and subsequent exhibition in New York and Washington D.C., Bastashevski should have become the trendiest thing in art-documentary. (The New Yorker, Lens Blog, ThePhotographyPost)

I’m not being flippant here; I think her work is remarkable and I also think it is successful in translating the bleakness of the situation for abductees and the families left behind (not all photography can elevate an issue in this same way).

File 126: Disappearing in the Caucasus’ has all the right ingredients to hook the Western audience; the cachet of post-Cold-War politics; the same cold-exoticism of photographers such as Carl de Keyzer or Bieke Depoorter; the details of anaesthetised domestic interiors; and fundamentally, hundreds of profoundly tragic and must-be-heard stories about political terror.

Russian-born Bastashevski read the case files before she began visiting families. Human rights organizations in the Russian North Caucasus have spent years documenting the abductions of young people, which they attribute to the state security forces conducting a brutal counter-insurgency campaign[ ...] Some stories verged on madness, like the genteel lady who was certain, after five years, that her sons were still alive in a secret prison in the forest, if only she could reach them. (Source)


One of the reasons I am so interested in Bastashevski’s work is that it mirrors the work – intellectually and in terms of its activism – of those photographers exploring and documenting the legacies and memories of the Disappeared in Argentina. (“Those photographers” I have written about before here, here, here and here).

- – – – – – – – – – – – – -

Image Caption: On June 10th, 2009 a group of military officials conducted a special, counter-terrorism, operation in Nazran, Ingushetia. In a course of the night, the men seized out of bed and dragged away a 23 year old Albakov Batyr. For two weeks Batyr remained missing. On June 13th., 2009, after two weeks of silence and uncertainty Batyrs mother saw her son on television. Literally torn to pieces, with arms barely connected to the torso, his body was dressed into insurgency clothing and was displayed covered in bullet holes. The TV network announced Batyr as one of the most wanted terrorist leaderer, killed during a spec. operation in the mountains. © Mari Bastashevski


prisonphotography [at] gmail [dot] com


Prison Photography Archives

Post Categories


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 650 other followers