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AFAC's Documentary Program

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The Arab Documentary Photography Program

The Arab Fund for Art and Culture and the Prince Claus Fund in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in partnership with the Magnum Foundation in New York, USA, launched the Arab Documentary Photography Program (ADPP) in 2014. The ADPP is a program jointly funded by AFAC and PCF and will run from 2014 to 2016, targeting creative documentary photographers in the Arab region. A jurors’ committee comprised of Arab and international experts will select up to 10 grantees to receive financial and professional support to complete their proposed photography projects.


Visit the program's website: arabdocphotography.org




Documentary photography sheds light on important neglected and unknown narratives. However, in the Arab world it remains an under-developed genre. With most current visual production going to journalistic mass-media outlets, there is little opportunity for documentary photographers to explore creative, personal, long-term, and analytical approaches to their work.  Additionally, there is little access to the needed resources and adequate professional support to initiate and complete compelling documentary photography projects.


The focus of the Arab Documentary Photography Program is to support compelling non-stereotypical and unconventional visual documentation of important social issues and narratives relevant to the Arab region. In recognition to the image’s power to document, educate and advocate, the ADPP will also explore ways by which documentary photography can reach out to wider audiences and engage with them in a compelling and impactful ways. Photographers may propose to work in a range of non-fiction narrative styles, from classic documentary photography to more experimental visual storytelling, and may propose to include audio and video elements.


1. To raise the level of creative documentary photography in the Arab region;
2. To train photographers and expand their approaches to visual storytelling;
3. To share strong visual narratives from the Arab region regionally and internationally; and
4. To explore wider access to documentary photography and a more active engagement with its audiences


Timeline of the 2015 call

- February 1st, 2016: Open the call for proposals;

- May1st, 2016: Close call

- June 10th, 2016: Announcement of the selected grantees

- August 26-29th, 2016: First Workshop
- February 24-28th, 2017: Second Workshop


About the Program's Advisors


Susan Meiselas – Program Advisor: An award-winning American documentary photographer born in 1948 in Baltimore, Maryland. She has been associated with Magnum Photos since 1976. She is best known for her human rights work in Latin America which was published globally in magazines including The New York Times, The Times, Time, GEO and Paris Match. She received the Robert Capa Gold Medal in 1979 and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1992. She earned her BA at Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in visual education at Harvard University. In 2006, she was awarded The Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography. Her work is in many international museum collections. Meiselas’ retrospective In History was produced by the International Center of Photography in 2008, and included three seminal works: Carnival Strippers, Nicaragua and Kurdistan In the Shadow of History. Meiselas is presently Acting Executive Director and President of the Magnum Foundation.


Randa Shaath – Mentor: Born to a Palestinian father and an Egyptian mother, lived in Beirut from 1969 until 1977 and currently resides in Cairo. She received a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from the American University in Cairo, and a MA in Visual Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota. She worked as a photographer for Agence France Press in Egypt and Gaza in 1994, and for the Al-Ahram Weekly newspaper since 1993. She worked on various projects in Palestine, Nubian villages, and Cairo. In the Cairo project she captured daily life in the city, on the streets and the rooftops, and on its forgotten islands. Recent exhibitions include The state of Palestine, Sony Gallery, American University in Cairo, 1998; In the Heart of the Nile (Islands of Cairo), Atelier Le Caire, Cairo, 1999; Nubian Life, The Nubian Museum, Aswan, Egypt, 2000; and Being There, in Home Works: A Forum on Cultural Practices in the Region, Beirut, Lebanon, 2002.


Eric Gottesman – Mentor: A photographic artist and organizer. Central to his practice is collaboration. He uses photography, writing and film as vehicles to engage others in conversation and critical thought about the social structures that surround them, and him. He works slowly, often spending a long time in a community, and exhibits work locally first, to an audience determined by the co-creators of the work. He has taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Amherst College, the International Center for Photography, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and in collaborative workshops in Lebanon, Jordan and Ethiopia.


Tanya Habjouqa – Mentor: Based in East Jerusalem, born in Jordan and educated in Texas, receiving her masters in Global Media and Middle East Politics from the University of London SOAS. She is known for gaining unique access to sensitive gender, social and human rights stories in the Middle East.  Recently, she won the 2014 World Press Award for Daily Life Stories, was a finalist for the 2014 FotoEvidence Book Award, and was a recipient of the Magnum Foundation 2013 Emergency Fund. She is a founding member of Rawiya photo collective, the first all-female photo collective of the Middle East. Her work has been widely exhibited and her series, Women of Gaza, was acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Art in 2013. She is represented by East Wing, an international platform for photography, founded in Doha, Qatar.


Peter van Agtmael – Mentor: Born in Washington DC. He studied history at Yale, graduating with honors in 2003. Since 2006 he has primarily covered the 9/11 Wars and their consequences, working extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan and the USA.  He has won the W. Eugene Smith Grant, the ICP Infinity Award for Young Photographer, the Lumix Freelens Award, as well as awards from World Press Photo, American Photography Annual, The Pulitzer Center, The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and Photo District News. In 2008 he helped organize the book and exhibition, a retrospective of largely unseen work of 22 photographers covering Iraq and Afghanistan. Peter joined Magnum in 2008 and became a full member in 2013.


Jessica Murray Workshop Coordinator: Jessica has been working in the field of documentary photography since 1997, when she held a position with Magnum Photos in New York.  In 2002 she founded The Williamsburg Workshops and in 2004 she founded Al-liquindoi in Spain, which she continues to direct today.  As part of Al-liquindoi, Jessica has worked as an independent consultant for the Documentary Photography Project of Open Society Foundations on their workshop and grant programs for photographers in the MENA region, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and also for FotoPres “La Caixa” in Spain, providing the layout for their current program.  In 2012 she designed and produced the 8-month Visual Storytelling program in Egypt with the Contemporary Image Collective and Noor Foundation. Over the years Jessica has sat on a number of nominating committees and juries for awards and grants in photography and in 2015 she was invited to be the artistic director of the Barcelona documentary photography festival DOCfield>15.


Al-liquindoi: Al-liquindoi was founded by Jessica Murray and Gonzalo Höhr in Spain in 2004. Over the past decade Al-liquindoi has helped train documentary photographers and photojournalists internationally, explored the use of multimedia storytelling, and helped to develop independent voices in the media. In 2014, Al-liquindoi created Crónica21.org, an on-line multidisciplinary archive of documentary stories and analysis about the deepening economic, political and social crisis in Spain.  


Partnering Institutions

The Prince Claus Fund - PCF
The Prince Claus Fund supports artists, critical thinkers and cultural organizations in spaces where freedom of cultural expression is restricted by conflict, poverty, repression, marginalization or taboos. Based on the principle that culture is a basic need, the mission of the Fund is to actively seek cultural collaborations and foster groundbreaking networks, based on equality and trust. The Fund works with partners of excellence, in spaces where resources and opportunities for cultural expression, creative production and research are limited and cultural heritage is threatened. These regions include Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and (non-EU) Eastern Europe.


The Magnum Foundation - MF
Magnum Foundation’s mission is to sustain the practice of in-depth, independent documentary photography as a critical tool that serves society by fostering empathy, engagement, and positive social change. MF seeks to develop new strategies for increased exposure and impact of documentary photographers in an ever-changing media landscape. The photographers of Magnum Photos founded the independent, non-profit Magnum Foundation in 2007 to carry forward Magnum’s high standards for long-form documentary storytelling in the 21st century.

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