Hammond's photographs illustrate with a profound force the plight of some of the most vulnerable human beings on earth. -- Ann Thomas, Curator
New York, NY (PRWEB) October 16, 2013
The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund is pleased to announce that Robin Hammond is the recipient of its 2013 grant in humanistic photography for his project, Condemned - Mental Health in African Countries in Crisis, which documents the mental health crisis throughout Africa. For two years, Hammond visited several regions including South Sudan, Mogadishu, and Somalia, among others, to create awareness about the neglect, abuse, and politics that feed this crisis and provide a voice for those who could not provide one themselves. As recipient of the award, Hammond will receive a $30,000 grant, which he will use to complete this project.
"I can remember the day I picked up a black-and-white photo book about mercury poisoning in a small town in Japan and everything changed for me that day," explains Robin Hammond. "I never knew photos had the ability to move me in such a way, to connect me to people in a faraway place, to sadden and enrage me. That book was called, "Minamata," by W. Eugene Smith.
In addition, the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund awarded Javier Arcenillas a $5,000 grant for Red Note -- Violence in Latin America. Latin America is considered one of the most violent places in the world, with cities like San Pedro Sula, Guatemala, San Salvador, and Mexico City, among the highest for murders and robberies. Unstable government policies and uncontrollable drug trafficking into the U.S. add to problem. Arcenillas spent two months with criminals, victims, and their families, to tell an incredible story of violence, mourning, and fear.
"I cannot express how wonderful it is for my name and my photography to be associated with the name of Eugene Smith," explains Javier Arcenillas, who was unable to attend the award presentations in New York. "I do not recall ever feeling more satisfaction than knowing I belong to an illustrious group of photographers who have been honored with this grant."
This year's Howard Chapnick Grant was presented to FotoKonbit, a non-profit organization that provides photography workshops to Haitian youth and adults. FotoKonbit will use the $5,000 grant to produce a ten-day workshop for a group of Haitian students the organization began working with last year in the fishing village of Labadie. Named after the legendary director of the Black Star Agency, and co-founder of the Smith Fund, the Howard Chapnick Grant, encourages and supports leadership in fields ancillary to photojournalism such as management and education.
Smith grant recipients were selected from entries received from more than 42 countries.
Award recipients presented their work on Wednesday evening to a capacity crowd at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theater in New York City. Jon Lee Anderson, staff writer for the New Yorker, gave the keynote presentation. Mr. Anderson has reported from numerous countries for the magazine since 1998 and covered the conflicts in Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Liberia, Somalia, Sudan and others. He is the author of several books, including "Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life," "The Lion's Grave: Dispatches from Afghanistan," and "The Fall of Baghdad." He currently lives in England.
In addition to Anderson's keynote, presentations included “W. Eugene Smith, Myself and Minamata: 1971-2012” with Takeshi Ishikawa sharing his unique collaboration with Smith in post WW II Japan. In addition, Gideon Mendel, a Smith Fund recipient in 1996, gave a special presentation of his ground-breaking work on the AIDS epidemic in Africa, which he was able to complete using his Smith grant.
"Smith Fund 2013 Grant recipient Robin Hammond's Condemned is a powerful look at people balanced on the edge of life who are generally neglected, forgotten and often abused, says Sarah Leen, Senior Editor, Photo Story Development at National Geographic and juror for this year's grant. "His images, often shocking but always tender, highlight this tragedy and search for moments of hope. His work stood out among many worthy candidates including Javier Arcenillas who is receiving the $5,000 Fellowship for his project about violence in Central and South America."
"To document the mental health impact of crises in sub-Saharan Africa for this project, I travelled to war ravaged regions of eastern Congo, South Sudan, Mogadishu, northern Uganda and Liberia and spent time with the displaced in Somalia and Dadaab," Hammond recalls. "I witnessed mental illness caused by horrors experienced and those with mental disabilities from birth. I discovered an entire section of communities abandoned by their governments, forgotten by the aid community, neglected and abused by entire societies; A voiceless minority condemned to lives of quiet misery. The worst was the children - wide eyed with fear, faces aged from never having known the touch of love."
"Robin Hammond takes photographs that bring home with a profound force the plight of some of the most vulnerable human beings on earth: the mentally ill from underprivileged countries," explains Ann Thomas, Curator of Photographs, Nationally Gallery in Ottawa, Canada and juror for the 2013 Smith Grant. "Extremely powerful and sensitively executed, Hammond's images, once seen, are not forgotten. They are testimony to the continuing legacy of Eugene Smith and his belief that we should not turn a blind eye to the suffering of others but by witnessing and recording, and try to bring about change for the better."
Additional finalists in the annual grant awards program for 2013 include, Bharat Choudhary, Edmond Clark, Maxim Dondyuk, Sebastian Liste, Benjamin Lowy, Pierpaolo Mittica, Ebrahim Noroozi, Sim Chi Yin, and Christian Warner.
"Gene Smith was the icon of photojournalism, combining artistry, story-telling and insightful commitment to what pictures can convey," explains Rich Clarkson, head of Rich Clarkson and Associates, longtime Smith Board member and third juror of this year's award entries. "The award was created to both honor Smith and recognize and encourage other talented and dedicated photojournalists to continue their own style of photography while maintaining the deep-rooted integrity Eugene Smith established so many years ago."
Now in its 34th year, the continued interest and demand for photographic grants is a great testament to W. Eugene Smith, a true pioneer in exploring the human condition and exposing the truth with his camera. Established in 1979, its primary purpose is to support and encourage photographers producing humanistic photo stories in the style of the legendary American photojournalist who sought to expose the truth about issues affecting and afflicting humankind.
Cash awarded to recipients of the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund Grants is supported by generous contributions from American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP), Anastasia Photo, Canon USA, The Harbers Family Foundation, and Open Society Foundations. Additional Smith Fund support is provided International Center of Photography, MediaStorm, NYC Fotoworks, Photo District News, School of Visual Arts BFA Photography; MFA Photography, Video and Related Media departments and Synergy Communications, Inc.
The 2012 Howard Chapnick Grant is co-sponsored by Rich Clarkson and Associates LLC, NYC FOTOWORKS, and The Harbers Family Foundation.
About The Smith Fund Grant
The Smith Fund Grant is named for the legendary documentary photographer W. Eugene Smith. Now in its 34th year the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund has become the one of the longest standing and most prestigious awards in photojournalism. A grant of $30,000 is given to a photographer to complete a project deemed most worthy by a panel of jurors. This year’s jurors included Rich Clarkson, Ann Thomas, Sarah Leen, and Marcel Saba.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Images are available upon request.