I’m seriously happy to find out that I have been awarded a Special Prize in the 2013 Art of Photography Competition in San Diego, CA. especially so quickly after being chosen as a finalist in the Renaissance Photography Prize.
I’m doubly pleased because of the choice of photo by this year’s judge (Julia Dolan, The Minor White Curator of Photography at the Portland Art Museum). The photo of Kiarash Bahari opposite has always had a special quality for me; the calmness of his eyes contrasting with the horrific nature of his sewn-together lips always glues me to the expression on his face. Taken in the doorway of the tent where he was hunger striking with fellow Iranian dissidents, it has a tranquil air which is at odds with the slow descent into starvation he and his companions were embarked upon. I’m just glad that his ordeal (and that of his fellow hunger strikers) is now over and that they have been granted asylum status in the UK.
As with a lot of my work trust is key. It takes time to form relationships and build that essential trust, particularly when the surrounding circumstances are so grim. Familiar arguments fly around your head as you bring the viewfinder up to your eye. Is this exploitative or a sober recording of events? Should I be doing this? This much is clear. This man is dying and it is happening. He wants his reasons to be known and even though picture editors at that time were only interested in royal wedding photos, I still kept taking the shots and documenting their story.
I’m glad to say that hunger strike ended before there was any loss of life. All of those involved had their cases reviewed and were granted asylum in the UK. If you would like to see a fuller set of photographs from this story you can see them here.
The Art of Photography Competition
Now in its 9th year the Art of Photography Competition exhibition will be held in the San Diego Art Institute between October 12 through November 17, 2013. All the finalists’ work will be on display for purchase. An Opening Reception Gala is planned for October 12th at 6pm with award presentations and a free 80 page catalogue for those attending.
I’ve never been to San Diego before and heard good things about it so I’m really looking forward to this trip.
If you’re there please come and say hello.