AFAC convened the third round of grantees for the Arab Documentary Photography Program (ADPP) workshop in Beirut 24-28 February. This was the second workshop for the group of nine grantees who have been accompanied in the past year by professional mentors. The nine photographers worked on finalizing their photo stories with a range of non-fiction narrative styles, from classic documentary photography to more experimental visual storytelling, benefiting from group discussions and one-on-one meetings with the mentors.
The participating projects from six countries were: Beyond Sacrifice by Carmen Yahchouchy (Lebanon), Loss by Hadeer Ahmed (Egypt), Bribes de Vie by Mehdy Mariouch (Morocco), Post-revolutionary Social Change in Egypt by Mostafa Bassim Adly (Egypt), Who Said White Is Better? by Muhammad Muhammad (Sudan), Infertile Crescent by Nadia Bseiso (Jordan), Dalieh; On the Edge by Roy Saade (Lebanon), Hide and Seek by Sara Sallam (Egypt), and "Shame" by Iman Al-Dabbagh (Saudi Arabia).
Stories spanned individual, social and political topics. Topics included misogamy and exhibitionism, partners of activists in prison, the life of a mining community, repression of activism, notions of female beauty, resource conflict, degeneration of a coastal area, death of a loved one, and the concept of shame in a conservative society.
The workshop culminated in the presentation of their work which was constructively critiqued for the shaping of the final product by their peers and mentors (Randa Shaath, Eric Gottesman, Tanya Habjouqa, and Peter van Agtmael). Input was also given by representatives of the collaborating organisations - Susan Meiselas (program advisor at Magnum Foundation), Emma Raynes (director of programs at Magnum Foundation), Bertrand Selim (progamme coordinator grants & collaborations at Prince Claus Foundation), Jessica Muray (program coordinator from Al-Liquindo) and Rima Mismar (executive director of AFAC).
Grantees discussed where and how they envisaged their work to be shared with a wider audience. Some are considering publishing their photo story in a book or on websites, whereas others want to display them in more informal settings as well as exhibiting them in galleries.
ADPP encompasses not only a grant but also training and one-on-one mentorship to accompany the photographers in articulating their photo story. The importance of this initiative in the long-term is to develop a network of authentic and diverse local photographers and to stimulate dialogue with photographers from outside the region who are engaged and working on the region.
Co-launched with the Prince Claus Fund in partnership with the Magnum Foundation in 2014, the annual mentorship program has benefited 28 photographers. AFAC intends to continue this program for another three years, due to the great interest it generates from artists, partners and donors.
In parallel to the workshop, AFAC organised a panel discussion on “Merging of Art and Documentary Worlds: Photographing the Personal” which was open to the public at Ashkal Alwan on Monday 27 February. Discussants were documentary photographers Peter van Agtmael and Randa Shaath whose recent projects explore notions of home, and exemplify the convergence of art and documentary photographic practices.