In accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award at the International Center of Photography Infinity Awards, celebrity photographer Harry Benson thanked not only the photo editors and colleagues who had supported him throughout his more than 50-year photojournalism career. He also thanked everyone “who didn’t help me, because they’re the ones you want to show.”

The 33rd annual Infinity Awards were presented April 22 at Pier 60 in New York City. The dinner is a fundraiser for the International Center of Photography’s exhibitions, school and community education programs such as The Point in the Bronx. It’s also a celebration of photography and visual culture.

In accepting the Infinity Award for Critical Writing and Guest Research, Sarah Lewis, the Harvard professor and curator who guest-edited the “Vision & Justice” issue of Aperture magazine observed, “The struggle to recognize the dignity of all human beings requires photographs.” She said that photography’s power to humanize the other was first recognized by abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the most photographed man of the nineteenth century. (Lewis added that Douglass was recently praised by the US President as “somebody who’s done an amazing job and is getting recognized more and more.”)

Sophie Calle, winner of the Infinity Award for Art, told the crowd that she applied to the ICP school in 1978 but was rejected. “They were right,” she said. But in receiving an Infinity Award 40 years later, she said, “Finally I got accepted somehow.”

The Infinity Award for Artist’s Book went to Libyan Sugar by Michael Christopher Brown. Brown said he had tried to show his experience covering the 2011 civil war in Libya realistically, without glamorizing conflict. He quoted a passage from Kurt Vonnegut’s anti-war novel Slaughterhouse Five, in which the writer/narrator promises a mother that his book about the war won’t portray young boy soldiers as grown men. He vows to call his book “The Children’s Crusade,” and not to create roles that could be “played in the movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne.”

The Award for photojournalism went to photographer Edmund Clark and reporter Crofton Black for their book Negative Publicity: Artifacts of Extraordinary Rendition, about the CIA’s secret detention centers.

The award for Online Platform and New Media was given to For Freedoms, an “artist-run super PAC” which has produced public art to engage debate on political issues and identity. Hank Willis Thomas (who had won the prize in 2015 for his project Question Bridge), Wyatt Gallery, Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels and Michelle Woo accepted the prize; co-creator Eric Gottesman was unable to attend the ceremony.

The Infinity Award for Young Photographer went to Vasantha Yogananthan, who photographs people he has invited to act out their favorite scene in the epic Sanskrit poem, The Ramayana.

Nominees for the 2017 ICP Infinity Award were suggested by a committee of 14 international curators and writers, and chosen by a three-member selection committee: Erin Barnet, director of ICP exhibitions and collections; Beryl Graham, professor of new media art, University of Sunderland; and Joel Smith, curator of photography for The Morgan Library and Museum.

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