November 19th, 2010

Open Society Announces 2010 Audience Engagement Grant Winners

The Open Society Documentary Photography Project yesterday announced the winners of this year’s Audience Engagement Grants. Founded in 2005 with the name “the Distribution Grant,” the grant seeks to engage communities and decision makers in human rights and social justice issues. Each year, five to eight grants ranging from $5,000 to $30,000 are awarded to photographers who have partnered with individuals or organizations to disseminate their finished photography projects to the public.

This year,  eight grantees were selected:

Andrew Agaba will partner with Africa Leadership Institute (www.aflia.org) on KALISOLISO: The People are Watching, a newspaper supplement, poster campaign, touring exhibition, and blog designed to prevent pre- and post-election violence in Uganda in the February 2011 general elections.

Alit Ambara will partner with Institut Sejarah Sosial Indonesia (ISSI) to present photographs of the victims of the 1965–66 violence in an interactive, multimedia teaching module to be used in Indonesian high school history classes.

Donna De Cesare will partner with Universidad Centroamericana in San Salvador and the The Mesoamerica Center in Antiqua, Guatemala, to combine photography, theater, and skills-based media workshops for youth to address the complex ways that gang violence and migration impact the human rights of young people in Central America.

Kunda Dixit will partner with Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya, the principal archive of books in the Nepali language, to produce Shanti Sangralaya, an educational curriculum and permanent exhibition of photographs, texts, maps, and graphics about the 1996–2006 insurgency in Nepal.

Stephen Ferry will partner with Consejo de Redación in Bogota to create Violentología: Un manual del conflicto colombiano, a visual resource that will be distributed to journalists, editors, and archivists to to instruct and encourage the photographic coverage of Colombia’s human rights crisis.

FIERCE, a membership-based organization in New York City, will partner with Marvin Taylor on Queer Pier: 40 Years, an exhibition and community archiving project that will serve as a tool for FIERCE’s ongoing grassroots organizing and leadership development programs for LGBTQ youth of color in New York City.

Lorena Ros will partner with La Fundación Vicki Bernadet in Barcelona to use Unspoken—a book and multimedia project on adult survivors of child sexual abuse—to create an experiential workshop designed to raise awareness and reach out to women survivors in the Spanish prison system.

Jean-Marie Simon will partner with Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala and Estudio A2 (www.a2foto.com) to create a newspaper supplement and a multi-lingual DVD based on her book Guatemala: Eternal Spring, Eternal Tyranny, which documents the height of Guatemala’s civil war in the 1980s.

Information on the grants and application guidelines can be found on the Soros Foundation web site.

October 20th, 2010

TED Prize Winner Makes Really, Really Big Photos

The TED Conference has awarded its 2011 TED Prize to the street artist known as JR, who has plastered enormous photos on slums, industrial sites, office buildings and demolition sites in Brazil, Nigeria, Kenya, Cambodia, France, Spain, the US and elsewhere.  The  TED prize , awarded annually to an individual who exemplifies innovation, includes a $100,000 cash award and the chance to see “a wish to change the world” realized. Previous winners have included President Bill Clinton, singer/activist Bono, chef and anti-obesity advocate Jamie Oliver and photojournalist James Nachtwey.

JR, who calls himself a “photograffeur,” dramatically transforms the neighborhoods where he posts images –sometimes at the risk of arrest or police harassment.   In his best known project, “Women are Heroes,” JR and a crew of local volunteers posted large, close-up portraits of women on the walls and roofs of favelas in Rio De Janiero.

The New York Times has posted a slide show of JR’s projects. The slides illustrate  how dramatic and compelling a human face can be when it’s several stories high and seen in a surprising context.

JR’s photo displays are usually a form of protest. In Shanghai, he is now plastering a historic neighborhood that is being demolished with his portraits of the area’s elderly residents.  But earlier this year, he created a purely artistic statement in Vevey, Switzerland using images by other photographers.  According to JR’s web site,  jr-art.net, he displayed images by Man Ray, Helen Levitt and Robert Capa.