Opportunities behind the lens

By | Art & Design
Lee Price, picture from the project Against the Order of Nature

The three winners of the fourth edition of IdeasTap and Magnum Photographic Award have been announced last week at the opening of the exhibition which showcased the fatigues of the 9 finalists of the competition launched in 2013. The professional development programme offered by the award is one of the most rewarding and effective for emergent photographers who would like to start their career in the field, or just implement their skills and opportunities. The award, organised in different steps, offers project funding, mentoring and work opportunities at Magnum Photo’s offices.

After the former selection of 18 candidates (divided in three different age categories) who attended a mentoring session with a Magnum photographer and exhibited their work in autumn last year, only 3 finalists per category (9 in total) have been shortlisted to produce a further project to present this spring. As well as receiving a prize of £5000, the three winners (one for each category of age) announced last week will have the opportunity to work as interns for Magnum’s offices in London and New York.

Similarly to the pictures showcased in the first exhibition in October last year, the show – which opened last week at the Old Truman Brewery in East London – Included more than a selection of good shots, revealing the photographers’ work as critical reportages on social-related topics and practices.

Abbie Trayler-Smith, picture from the project The Big O

The fortunate winners of the 2013 edition are Abbie Trayler-Smith, Souvid Datta and Lee Price. Abbie Trayler-Smith (age category 31+) debuted last autumn with a project focused on child obesity with title The Big O; the project, realised for the second session of work during the past six months, tackles a deeper investigation of the same subject. The pictures displayed narrate the story of five different children and teenagers struggling with their bodies, self-image and confidence. Abbie transfigures the insecurity and fragility of these characters to reveal their beauty; she challenges an aesthetic canon, giving voice to the people and their lives.

Souvid Datta and Lee Price (age category 16-22 and 23-30 respectively) tackled two different subject matters, focusing on two specific countries: China and Uganda. Datta has completed a project titled The Human Price of Pollution about the effects and consequences of pollution for the population and the environmental impact in China. Looking at the statistics and documenting the human and ecological consequences of the recent economic growth of the country, Datta poetically interprets and describes a phenomenon that deserves global attention.

Souvid Datta, picture form the project The Human Price of Pollution

Souvid Datta, picture form the project The Human Price of Pollution

Lee Price’s project, still somehow related to the one he showcased in autumn (Sex with Strangers), is titled Against the Order of Nature. This time, the photographer tackles the question of homosexuality referring to the recent law in Uganda that increases the penalties for homosexual activity. The pictures selected and showcased at the exhibition are incredibly moving and elicit a real empathy with the portrayed subjects’ and their feelings.

Other projects presented at the show also deserve attention. Love me True by Clementine Schneiderman, between myth and fiction, narrates the story of a legend through its fans; the story is set in Graceland, Elvis Presley hometown, a place that incarnates the American Dream and the ones hidden in any of his fans of anytime and age. The black and white series Luna, signed by Owen Harvey, observes the fascinating and unexplored correlation between mental health and the lunar cycle, in the attempt of reconciling psychological self with natural phenomena. Another significant project is After the Apology: Women from the Stolen Generations by Aletheia Casey which brings up the historical and personal consequences of the removal of Aboriginal children from their families and the recent Australian Government’s formal apologies.

Applications for the 2014 award are now open with the new categories of UK-based 16-25-year-olds, UK-based 26+ and International 16+. We look forward to seeing the new edition results…

Besides the learning opportunities, what is the contribution of the award to the field of photography as both artistic and documentary practice?

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