Magnum Foundation

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Announcing On Religion, a collaborative pilot initiative

We are excited to announce the interdisciplinary teams producing in-depth and experimental projects as a part of our pilot initiative, On Religion, which includes a production grant and participation in a production laboratory with our partners at the The Brown Institute for Media Innovation

From proposals submitted through an open call last summer, an independent three-member jury of religion experts comprised of Dr. Diana Taylor, Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, and writer Jeff Sharlet selected projects that will be developed collaboratively over the coming months. We believe that photographers working in partnership with other creative practitioners produces uniquely effective and experimental storytelling that furthers awareness and expands our knowledge of the politically significant and vastly complex ways that religion impacts our lives. 

This topical grant is made possible by the Henry Luce Foundation, with editorial and advisory support from The Revealer: A Review of Religion and Media and NYU’s Center for Religion and Media.

“THE UN/HOLY LAND” BY TANYA HABJOUQA (PHOTOGRAPHER), DIMI REIDER (WRITER), AND MUHAMMAD JABALI (WRITER/TECHNOLOGIST)

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The “Un/Holy Land” project seeks to tell stories of lives and places in Palestine-Israel by exploring the many overlaps of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, secular and religious, sacred and profane, and politics and religion. We will challenge how international players on religion manifest themselves here politically and touristically; and we’ll be asking if the supposed relationships between secularism and humanism, religiosity and intolerance are really as clear-cut as they appear. The end product will be a geotagged storytelling website, offering people a multitude of ways to learn and unlearn the lay of the Un/Holy Land.

“MAPPING THE SPIRIT” BY KAMEELAH RASHEED (PHOTOGRAPHER/ARTIST) AND COREY TEGELER (CREATIVE TECHNOLOGIST)

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“Mapping the Spirit” is an archival storytelling project that charts the religious and spiritual articulations of people of African descent in North America. This interdisciplinary project spans the mediums of photography, audio, and text with a focus on carving out space to elaborate on the religious and spiritual depth beyond the reductions of our community to “the Black Church.” Mapping the Spirit documents the texture of spiritual life amongst people of African descent in America by amplifying these voices to create more nuanced history. The first chapter of Mapping the Spirit, the Moorish Science Temple of America, is documented through the integration of photographs depicting private domestic life as well as public community life, audio, long-form interviews, as well as archival matter such as FBI files excerpts, newspaper articles, and Moorish publications into an interactive website. Future chapters will explore Black Hasidic communities as well as networks of Black Buddhists.

“THE CRESCENT, THE STAR, THE CROSS, THE VOID” BY OSCAR B. CASTILLIO (PHOTOGRAPHER) AND KARIM BAOUZ (WRITER)

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“The Crescent, the Star, the Cross, the Void” is an interactive multimedia project made of pictures, video, sound and data that observes the points of unity and points of rupture within French society in relation to Islam. France is currently struggling to integrate its secular and progressive supposed identity with its citizens, of multinational origins, who live by strict religious precepts. The country of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” has neglected and segregated its own citizens bringing with that a crisis of extremism, ghettoization and multidirectional intolerance. This project aims to be part of an open dialogue about integration to prevent the stigmatization of a whole sector of the population and the growing wave of Islamophobia and religious, racial, and cultural tension.

“THE BLOOD AND THE RAIN” BY YAEL MARTINEZ (PHOTOGRAPHER) AND ORLANDO JESUS VELAZQUEZ (GRAPHIC ARTIST)

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“The Blood and the Rain” is a project that ocument the rain petition rituals and sacrifice that are performed by ancestral communities in Guerrero, Mexico and are mostly hidden from cameras, aiming to help preserve their cultural identity. These spiritual rituals, passed on by generations, will be photographed in a symbolic manner, offering glimpses into the preparation and festivities carried out by different protagonists. The title of the project reflects the circular relationship between two sacred and vital liquids: blood, which is offered as sacrifice, and rain, which gives life. A layer of drawings and graphic interventions will illuminate the spiritual and metaphysical elements behind the rituals, serving as a form of code by which the story can be interpreted.

Katerina Voegtle