Open Society Documentary Photography Project has announced the winners of its Audience Engagement Grant Program, which supports photographers who “have gone beyond documenting a human rights or social justice issue to enacting change.” This year, Open Society Foundations offered two forms of support. The Project Development grants gave grantees a chance to attend a workshop, organized by Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program, to learn strategies for moving their projects forward. The Project Implementation grants supported photo-based artists who, in partnership with other organizations, are using photography to engage a unique audience. Grant winners were also invited to the professional development retreat.
The grant winners in the Project Development track are:
* Nazik Armenakyan: to document women living with HIV/AIDS in Armenia.
* Paul Botes: to showcase the impact of the Lonmin Marikana Mine violence in South Africa.
* Robert Godden: to address migration policies, practices, and research in Nepal.
* Cristobal Olivares: to confront violence against women in Chile.
* Thenmozhi Soundararajan: to expose sexual violence against Dalit women in India.
* Andri Tambunan: to chronicle the rise of HIV/AIDS within indigenous Papuan communities living in Tanah Papuah.
In the Project Implementation track, the following photographers and partner organizations were named winners:
* Mario Badagliacca with the Archive of Migrant Memories (AMM) on their campaign to collect, archive, and share testimonies of migrants held in Identification and Deportation Centers throughout Italy.
* Rula Halawani with Al-Ma’mal Foundation for Contemporary Art to produce an exhibition addressing Palestinian identity and collective memory, as these relate to the natural and physical environment.
* Karim Ben Khelifa with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Open Documentary Lab, Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab to create an augmented reality installation that will allow users to engage with soldiers from across enemy lines.
* Jean Melesaine with Silicon Valley De-Bug to work with California public defender offices in effectively and responsibly producing client “social biography videos” as tools for reducing sentencing and potential incarceration.
* Pete Pin with the Cambodian Association of Greater Philadelphia and Michael Weiss (of IXL Learning) to create an online platform for Cambodian Americans to share their family stories based on ephemera saved from before the war and refugee camps.
* Michael Premo and Andrew Stern with Working Films’ Reel Power Initiative to educate and mobilize communities in areas surrounding shale beds and to build public opposition to the recent lift of a ban on fracking in North Carolina.
* Brooke Singer with the Center for Health, Environment, and Justice to develop a more accessible, user-friendly Superfund365.org, a data visualization archive of the worst toxic-waste sites in the United States.
Open Society Foundations, which funds the grants, announced in April that it decided to divide its funding for projects being launched and those that are ready to implement after recognizing that “cultivating collaborations and effectively executing these projects requires significant effort, time, and strategic planning.” In announcing this year’s winners, Open Society also noted that documentary photographers have to do more to advocate for lasting change than simply raise awareness. As the Open Society Foundation’s website notes, “The 2014 grantees take on multiple and often simultaneous roles—artists, activists, advocates, and community organizers, to name just a few.”
More information on the grant winners, and some of their images, can be found on the Open Society Foundations’ website.