This week on Photojournalism Now: Friday Round Up – Finbarr O’Reilly’s new monograph, Congo, A Sublime Struggle. Plus a couple of new exhibitions in Melbourne and the Bowness Photography Prize finalists are announced including Narelle Autio for this image, Life Less from her series Trashed. In years gone by I’ve written about Narelle’s work and her use of trash found on the beach to create narratives about our disposable culture and the havoc it plays on the environment. Very pleased to see her work included in this year’s finalists.
So much has happened since the last blog post! The World Press Photo Exhibition at Magnet Galleries Melbourne was so popular it was extended. I hope you got to see it. Thanks to those who turned up for the World Press Photo panel discussion I moderated with three brilliant photojournalists – Christina Simons, Meredith O’Shea and Ellen Smith. We had a robust and honest discussion about re/defining photojournalism.
At the panel event I also took the opportunity for a photo with Gwendolen de Lacy, the curator of the Maggie Diaz Prize. Meredith O’Shea and I are on the judging panel this year along with legendary photographer Juno Gemes. Am looking forward to seeing the entries next month. The winner will be announced at the exhibition opening at Brightspace Gallery St. Kilda on 1st September.
Continuing with the World Press Photo theme, in a bid to increase diversity in the annual competition, the organisation announced this month that it will arrange regional contests in six major regions of the globe: Africa, Asia, Europe, North and Central America, South America and Southeast Asia and Oceania. The impetus for this change is partly influenced by the domination of entries from Europe (48% in 2021). In comparison only 5% were from Southeast Asia and Oceania (which encompasses a huge geographic area), and only 3% from the entire African continent.
World Press Photo states that this new regional focus will see “photographs and stories…judged first by a regional jury according to the region in which they were shot.”
The organisation also wants to address the gender imbalance. In 2021 80% of entrants identified as male. It’s staggering that this statistic still stands in 2021 given there are so many amazing female photojournalists working around the globe. It would be interesting to gain insights into the barriers these females face in entering the competition (and the industry – chicken/egg scenario).
In July, World Press Photo named DrikPath Bhobon in Dhaka, Bangladesh as its Asia partner. As many readers of Photojournalism Now will know, Drik was founded by photojournalist and activist Shahidul Alam who is a dear friend. Knowing that Drik is steering this segment of the competition is welcome news.
You can find out more about the judging process here.
Finbarr O’Reilly – Congo, A Sublime Struggle
British-Canadian photojournalist Finbarr O’Reilly was the laureate of the 11th edition Carmignac Photojournalism Award. His new monologue created under this award is named after a quote from Patrice Lumumba’s independence speech.
Lumumba was a nationalist leader and the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) first prime minister (June-September 1960). A political crisis saw Lumumba forced out of office and he was assassinated not long after.
O’Reilly began his reportage in January 2020, but progress was quickly halted by the pandemic. As many of us did that year, O’Reilly had to rethink his approach. Enter Congo in Conversation, a “collaborative online chronicle which, through close cooperation with Congolese journalists and photographers (as well as journalists of other nationalities based in the DRC)…(addressed) the human, social and ecological challenges that the Congo faces today with this new health crisis.” I wrote about O’Reilly’s project in May that year. You can read that story here.
Once the borders reopened, O’Reilly began work on his original reportage project, the results of which are featured in this book that addresses issues of security, human rights and environmental concerns in the DRC. The book also canvasses the “country’s colonial history, and how ongoing exploitation by extractive industries affects the lives of the Congolese.”
In contrast to Congo in Conversation, which featured Congolese photographers and perspectives, O’Reilly’s “Congo, A Sublime Struggle” presents “an outsider’s view, but one that seeks to understand its own complicity in the current state of transition and reinvention.”
“The book includes a photo report made in partnership with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for their series ‘Life after Conflict’, showing how the Congolese population deals with reparation and the aftermath of war crimes in the short and the long term.”
Co-published by Reliefs Editions and Fondation Carmignac.
Size: 24 × 28 cm, 128 pages
Texts : Finbarr O’Reilly, Comfort Ero and Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua
Photographs : Finbarr O’Reilly
Price: 35 euros, 45 USD, 58 CAD, 35 GBP
Distributed by: Harmonia Mundi
“Finbarr O’Reilly is an independent photographer and multimedia journalist, and the author of the nonfiction memoir, Shooting Ghosts, A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War (Penguin Random House 2017). Finbarr lived for 12 years in West and Central Africa and has spent two decades covering conflicts in Congo, Chad, Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya, and Gaza. He is the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize exhibition photographer (“Crossroads Ethiopia” around the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize Abiy Ahmed Ali) and a frequent contributor to The New York Times. His photography and multimedia work has earned numerous industry honors, including First Place in the Portraits category at the 2019 World Press Photo Awards. He was also winner of the World Press Photo of the Year in 2006 and earned in 2020 an Emmy for the PBS Frontline documentary Ebola in Congo. Finbarr is a Canon Ambassador.”
Exhibitions at Magnet Galleries
In Gallery 1 is the group show MIRACLE, featuring the work of four female photographers: Barbara Oehring, Margot Sharman, Pam Davison and Sue Jackson. The exhibition is premised on the theme of “the miracles of everyday life”. The show opens with a high tea on Sunday 7 August at 2pm. The exhibition is on from 3-20 August.
Gallery 2 features the work of Eva Rugel. The exhibition World Moments: Overland from Melbourne to Freiburg (which is also a book) includes work produced by Eva during the year-long journey she made with her family which saw them travel from Melbourne to the Black Forest in southwest Germany. The collection is a record of that journey and includes an installation of postcards sent to friends from the countries she passed through. The exhibition is on from 4-19 August with an artist’s talk on 14 August at 2pm.
SC G19, Wharf Street, The District, Docklands, Melbourne