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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.
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.
THREE NEEDED PROJECTS
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 Emphas.is.
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)
DIFFERENT CONTINENT, SAME CRIME
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).
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