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On View: Magnum Confronts Intolerance in "What Works"

By David Schonauer   Monday November 14, 2016


The world needs to know what works.

Now, especially.

On view at the Bronx Documentary Center  through November 20 is the exhibition “What Works,” which features photography by nine recipients of Magnum Foundation Human Rights Fellowships, a program that allows emerging photographers around the world to document their communities.

The photographers — Santiago Arcos, Poulomi Basu, Xyza Cruz Bacani, Abbas Hajimohammadi, Eman Helal, Yuyang Liu, Manca Juvan, Anastasia Vlasova and Muyi Xiao — were tasked with finding stories that showed conflicting communities overcoming their differences.

“While many of the projects we support through Magnum Foundation’s programming arise from the journalistic instinct to expose and interrogate social injustices, we believe that rigorous explorations of positive responses to social problems are equally essential,” explains the Magnum Foundation website. “In this current climate of increased sectarian conflict and rampant xenophobia, it is imperative to point to instances of people coming together. Critical perspectives on what works locally, in communities around the world, offer points of access for tackling issues of global relevance.”

The program’s coordinator, Alexis Lambrou, told Time LightBox that the idea for the series came together after the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris.

“It’s our desire and our fellows’ desire to want to introduce more positive storytelling into the world that doesn’t always get as much attention,” Lambrou said. “We feel that it’s equally important to represent positive storytelling as well.”

The fellows attended a 10-day workshop at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in March, where they worked with photojournalist Ed Kashi and visual journalist and CUNY professor Bob Sacha on refining their stories and adding multimedia elements. The fellows also received guidance from the Solutions Journalism Network, an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to producing solutions-based journalism, notes Time.


The scope is indeed global. Santiago Arcos  photographed the Palestino Futbol Club, a soccer team that was founded in 1920 by Palestinian migrants in Santiago, Chile.


Abbas Hajimohammadi
  photographed Armenian Christians living peacefully in Iran, a predominantly Muslim country.


Anastasia Vlasova
  documented Crimean Tatars, an ethnic minority forced to leave Crimea after the Russian annexation in 2014. They resettled in Lviv, in western Ukraine, a predominantly Christian area.


Muyi Xiao
  spent time in Massachusetts with Mona Haydar and Sebastian Robins, who started a “Talk to a Muslim” booth shortly after the Paris attacks in an effort to combat Islamophobia.

“When we put all these stories together, it really brings a much stronger power than reading them from different times in different places,” Xiao told Time.  “I really hope people feel inspired by the stories and start to act.”

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