BE SEEN sparks community engagement and thoughtful debate through partnerships and the innovative use of documentary images in cross-disciplinary exhibitions and events that highlight pressing public concerns.
Documentary photography is uniquely effective for fostering understanding and raising awareness. Drawing on partnerships across disciplines and fields of expertise, Magnum Foundation produces projects, exhibitions, and events that incorporate both archival images and work produced by Magnum Foundation grantees. Be Seen projects take a range of innovative forms to pave new avenues for documentary photography to reach and mobilize a broader audience.
All across the U.S., families are struggling to put food on the table. High poverty rates are crippling the country's most vulnerable communities, the conditions and faces of which largely go unseen. 2015 Emergency Fund grantee Matt Black traveled across America visiting 70 towns and cities where at least twenty percent of the population is living below the poverty level. As a part of the The Value of Food: Sustaining a Green Planet at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Magnum Foundation produced a public installation of the resulting work along 110th Street.
A collaboration with grassroots Paris-based photographer's collective #Dysturb to curate 25 images from 17 countries around the world and adhere them to public-facing buildings and facades throughout the city of Paris during COP21. Folding compelling documentary images into the visual vernacular of climate change, #Reframeclimate challenges the notions of what climate change imagery looks like. Each pasting presented a pertinent scientific statistic and a prompt for an SMS interaction to hear the story behind the image directly from the photographer.
In partnership with the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, we presented an installation of projects by Arab Documentary Photography Program (ADPP) grantees Omar Imam and Natalie Naccache. Both projects focus on Syrians displaced from their homes. Their stories are not about statistics or politics, but rather about the individuals caught in between. Disrupting the viewers’ expectations of images of refugees, their distinct perspectives offer powerful insights into the condition of exile.
In collaboration with Working Theater, Magnum Foundation presented a cross-disciplinary installation and immersive theater experience of Ed Cardona Jr.’s play La Ruta. Staged within the walls of a moving semi-truck, participants were exposed to the harrowing journey of immigrants smuggled across the border into the United States. The project showcased the work of both Magnum photographers and emerging voices supported through Magnum Foundation fellowships.
Co-produced with ChinaFile, Magnum Foundation featured 2014 Emergency Fund grantee Ian Teh’s work in an immersive exhibition at Photoville in Brooklyn to coincide with the UN Climate Summit. Traces explores the darker side of China’s rapid industrialization, where the expansive ice fields are warming faster than the rest of the world and the Yellow River repeatedly runs dry. In the form of a 16-foot banner, one image depicting a mountain range in Qinghai, China was carried in the People’s Climate March. Evocative of traditional monumental landscape paintings, the panoramic photograph stood out from the throngs of slogan-bearing signs as a silent beacon.
Organized in collaboration with St. John the Divine and Voice of Witness, The Value of Water was an evening event of readings, photography, and film at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to raise the visibility of a range of global water concerns. Narratives from the Voice of Witness book series were read by noted actors and activists with visual interventions drawn from the archives of Magnum photographers Paolo Pellegrin, Thomas Dworzak, Chris Steele-Perkins, and Dominic Nahr.
Beginning from a story supporte by an Emergency Fund grant to document food scarcity in the South Side of Chicago, See Potential grew into a public art project spurring community revitalization in neglected buildings and neighborhoods. Grantee Emily Schiffer drew from the Magnum Photos archive to create large-scale photographic installations at abandoned sites and launched a text-messaging campaign prompting residents to voice their support for positive transformations.
Voices of Burma brought together prominent authors, actors, and Burmese dissidents to read excerpts from Nowhere to Be Home: Narratives from Survivors of Burma’s Military Regime. The Magnum Foundation provided images from the archives of Magnum photographers Chien-Chi Chang and Lu Nan.