Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – 20 November 2020

This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – the 2020 grantees for The Alexia, plus Ballarat’s National Centre for Photography gets a multi-million dollar investment, The Independent Photographer Black and White Competition is open and more…read on.

Winners: The Alexia 2020 Grants

“My best friend is the father of three Black boys and it was his birthday. The police murders of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd were front of mind and this birthday celebration was supposed to be a brief break from reality. We were pouring drinks in the kitchen when I asked him how it felt turning another year older. What he said I was not expecting. The essence of his response was that his birthday was a reminder that he is one more year closer to having to explain to his boys why playing outside with toy guns was dangerous. One more year closer to explaining why that unarmed Black man died at the hands of those paid to protect him. One more year closer to having that dreadful talk about being Black boys in America. We created this photo on another Birthday, the 4th of July. In the process of creating the photograph someone approached and asked, “what is this supposed to represent?” Shortly after a white woman paddled by in her boat. She yelled to her husband, “Look honey! Look at the flag, that’s just not right!” She could only see the flag submerged in the water and not us drowning in it” (C) Cornell Watson

Cornell Watson of Durham, North Carolina is the recipient of the 2020 Alexia Professional Grant for his project “Behind the  Mask.”  Watson will receive $20,000 in cash. The Student Grant recipient is Leonidas Enetanya of the Photographic Center Northwest in Seattle Washington for “The Monét Archives.” 

This is the 30th Alexia Grant Competition. Judging took place remotely on November 6 and 7. It was moderated by Mike Davis, director of The Alexia along with judges Noelle Flores Théard, Laylah Amatullah Barrayn and Joshua Rashaad McFadden.

Watson says his project “visually explores the stories of Black people and the various ways we wear the mask. My hope is that it inspires Black people to be their true authentic selves in white spaces and that it inspires white people to look within themselves to see how they contribute to a society that forces Black people to wear the mask.”

“It wasn’t just a win for me, but it is also a win for my community,” says Watson.  “What Alexia stands for, its mission and purpose of bringing social injustices to the forefront, could not be more aligned with what I intend to do with my work.  I have an important story to share and winning the Alexia helps give me the freedom and resources to visually share that story with the world.”

Second place in the professional category is Amber Bracken of Edmonton, Canada for “Generations,” an examination of how the harm from Canada’s Indian Residential Schools has manifested itself in successive generations. In third place is Isadora Kosofsky for Permanent and Known which documents the impact of Covid-19 on senior citizens and adults with disabilities inside and outside facilities in the American West.

“Aimee signs her mother’s memorial, in the place where her body was found, after visiting it for the first time since it had been discovered there in 2012. Her aunt that she isn’t on good terms with has her mom’s ashes and, without a grave to visit she feels disconnected from her mom,” (C) Amber Bracken
“Alice, 84, who has Covid-19, holds a photograph of her granddaughter at the Canyon Transitional Rehabilitation Center in Albuquerque. “I miss my family a whole lot.” Canyon, an entirely Covid+ setting, is a nursing home that houses residents with Covid-19 from other long-term care facilities in New Mexico. “I’m missing my grandchildren’s birthdays,” she said. Alice has 9 grandchildren. She keeps the heart-shaped photograph of her 18-year-old granddaughter in her Bible. “Today, I am lonely, but I’m strong. I know what I’ve been through,” said Alice. (C) Isadora Kosofsky

Student grant recipient Leonidas Enetanya, receives a scholarship to cover three courses over a semester at the Newhouse School at Syracuse University, a $1000 cash grant and a position as a research assistant to The Alexia director, for which he’ll get paid.

:A warm up shot of my house sibling before our casual photoshoot” (C) Leonidas Enetanya

“This is the first competition I’ve won, and perhaps the first time in my life I’ve made a sincere effort towards a goal and achieved it,” says Enetanya. “It’s surprising. It’s like becoming aware of a power I didn’t know I had, that was in my hands all this time.”

Enetanya will create a series of intimate portraits and candid moments in the lives of the queer/trans black and brown men and women who participate in ballroom, contrasting life behind the scenes with their personas at the balls. The main subjects will be various members of The House of Monét, of which he is a resident, a place where, after six years of foster care, he can finally call his home, a community amongst whom he can feel embraced, appreciated, and understood.

Says Enetanya, “Society needs to see our humanity. Too many people are blind to it. Someone has to show them. Who better than me? Through my camera and writing, my subjects will be able to see themselves and be seen in a way they couldn’t otherwise, and with this project, I can raise awareness of our perennial plight, promote empathy, and fight transphobia during this revolutionary chapter in black/LGBTQ history.”

In 2020 the Alexia Foundation became The Alexia which is run by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where the competition has been administered and judged throughout its 30 year history.

The Alexia was created to celebrate and remember Alexia Tsairis, a student at Syracuse University, who was killed in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 as she returned home from her study abroad program. She was one of 35 Syracuse students on that flight. In her honour, The Alexia Grants have awarded over $1.7 million to 166 photographers. The purpose of the grants is to help give voice to those who go unheard, foster understanding and expose social injustice.

News: Ballarat’s National Centre for Photography (NCFP) was given a major boost this week. The Andrews Labor Government in Victoria will invest $6.7 million in the NCFP, which is phenomenal given photography continues to be the poor cousin when it comes to funding for visual arts in this country. This is a very exciting development. Watch this space.

“The NCFP will feature state-of-the-art gallery spaces for major temporary exhibitions, opportunities for community artists to exhibit, and a dedicated photobook library. It will host exhibitions, workshops, events, artist residencies, educational and professional development programs.”

News: Middle East Images is an agency representing photographers and artists across the region. If you’re looking for new and exciting visual storytelling, check it out.

Middle East Images website

Competition: Applications for The Independent Photographer’s 2020 Black and White Photo Award are now open. This competition, judged by Dutch artist Bastiaan Woudt, is open to photographers across all genres. It presents a great opportunity to get your B&W work in front of Woudt who is renowned for his portraits. Enter for a chance to win cash prizes, global exposure and to have your work exhibited in Berlin and Milan. Sounds pretty cool to me. Deadline: November 30.

(C) Bastiaan Woudt

Video interviews: If you haven’t done so already, please watch our 2020 video interview series Photojournalism Now: In Conversation – subscribe to the channel by clicking on the red A. There are interviews with Robin HammondRenée C. ByerSean Gallagher, Lisette Poole and Anastasia Taylor-Lind.

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