Pride, Power and Protest in Photos: The ADPP 2020 Edition Unveiled
21 Jul 2020

The Arab Fund for Arts and Culture – AFAC, the Prince Claus Fund – PCF and Magnum Foundation are pleased to reveal eleven compelling documentary photography projects that will participate in the seventh cycle of the Arab Documentary Photography Program (ADPP).

The ADPP call opened on February 14, 2020 and closed on May 1, 2020 with 99 applications received (registering a 7.6% increase as compared to 2019) from 14 Arab countries. The 88 applications which passed the administrative check were sent to the jurors for evaluation.

A jury committee composed of three members was invited to review and evaluate the applications in view of selecting the projects most eligible for support. This year, 2015 ADPP grantee Zied Ben Romdhane joined as juror, in addition to Magnum Foundation director Kristen Lubben, and Palestinian researcher and curator Yasmine Eid-Sabbagh. The deliberations, which took place virtually over two days, resulted in the selection of 11 projects hailing from Palestine, Egypt, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, and Algeria.

Commenting on the projects they reviewed and those which they selected, the jury issued the following statement:

"Working from within their communities the photographers of this year’s Arab Documentary Photography Program aspire to find ethical approaches to complex subjects related to identity, community, gender, and the environment in times of crisis.
It has been particularly encouraging to observe, how, in this time of economic crisis in Lebanon, political upheaval in the region, and during a global pandemic, photographers in the Middle East and North Africa continue their work and dedication to challenging topics, and how AFAC despite these obstacles, pursued its program, insisting on the thoroughness of the review process.
Whilst the jury session had to be held online, it was conducted with the same meticulousness as every year, reviewing every application that meets the application criteria, in detail and with lots of care. We continue to encourage female photographers to apply, as well as (young) photographers from Arab countries such as Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania and the Gulf countries from which applications are still scarce.

The applications received for the 2020 cycle covered diverse social subjects, gender issues, financial crises, marginalized groups including women, wars and migration, ecological issues, and daily life struggles. Looking at the applicants’ statistics, the ratio of male/female applicants for this year was 61%/39%, compared to 57.6%/42.4% in 2019. This ratio is reversed on the grantees level with 40% males and 60% females. Furthermore, an increase in the percentage of seasoned photographers applying compared to 2019 was witnessed; from 50.49% in 2019 to 57% in 2020. It is also worth noting that the program is welcoming two Palestinian participants for the 2020 edition following an absence of photographers from Palestine since 2014.

The eleven selected projects span across a rich diversity of burning topics such as identity, gender, climate change and power struggles, using creative approaches of visual storytelling. In “The Longing of the Stranger Whose Path Has Been Broken”, Rehab Eldalil (Egypt) reconnects to her roots and explores the meaning of home and the idea of belonging in the liminal Bedouin life in South-Sinai. Visual artist and photographer Roger Anis (Egypt) seeks, in “Colors of the Water”, to discover the different colors of water in three countries connected to the Nile - Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan – in an attempt to show the connection, differences and challenges in each country regarding the water of the Nile. “The Dying Soul” by Seif Kousmate (Morocco) is an essay on how desertification, migration, and climate change affect different levels of the oasis’s ecosystem in Morocco. Myriam Boulos (Lebanon) documents in an inward manner the Lebanese uprisings of October 2019 with her project “The Ongoing Revolution in Lebanon”. On her part, Tamara Saade (Lebanon) captures the relationship between straight old men tanning in their speedos on a public beach in Beirut in “The Tanning Men”. “Radical”, by Maen Hammad (Palestine) is a raw presentation about skateboarding’s radical ethos in pursuit of self and collective liberation. In “103”, Ramzi Bensaadi (Algeria) documents groups of bikers and their races, resilience and social life. “Women of Libya” by Nada Harib (Libya) is an on-going project interweaving various stories expressing women’s courage, from the beauty of their traditions, to the social challenges that they face. The project of Yasmine Omari (Palestine), “The Eye Sees Far but the Hand is Short”, explores the current struggles that Palestinians living in the West Bank and within the 1948 borders face. “White Gold” by Amina Kadous (Egypt) aims to find answers by following cotton threads extending three generations back in the home of Egyptian cotton, the city of El Mehalla. Finally, Lara George Chahine’s project “Reasons Why You Should Date a Lebanese Woman/ Set El Beit” aims to explore the archetypes of what it means to be a Lebanese woman and their fetishization.

The selected photographers will receive a production grant and will benefit from two intensive workshops, as well as a 6-month mentorship program to accompany the development of their individual projects under the supervision of the program’s mentors: Randa Shaath, Peter van Agtmael, Tanya Habjouqa, and Eric Gottesman.

To find out more about the ADPP and the gripping work of its photographers, check out the ADPP website.