and Runners up, 2017
The quality and social merit of the entries into our inaugural competition were far beyond our expectations, representing a unique documentation of cultures & knowledge across the globe. See the winners work featured below.
Winner: Josue Rivas
Standing Rock, US
‘I would like to share a dream with you. This dream takes place at the Standing Rock nation near the confluence of the Missouri and Cannonball Rivers. I’m camping with thousands of people and next to me is my beautiful partner with our 7 month old son. We had just drove our vehicle for more than 1400 miles from Los Angeles. While we participated in a prayer, an auntie walks up to me with a red bundle of tobacco and says “Go offer it to them” their story is important. I grabbed the bundle and humbly walked up to the leader of the group and said “ Relative, here is some tobacco, I know you are still in ceremony and photos aren’t allowed but I wanted to see if I could please take portraits of the dancers when they are done. The man looked at me with a surprised face and said “Yes, thank you for asking”
The truth is that this dream never ended and to a certain degree it never really started. It was something modern and ancestral. A dream so abstract that became real and the amazing part is that I documented it all. For months I was able to photograph the hundreds of nations and allies that came to Standing Rock to stand up for the water of life.
Last year Standing Rock became the epicenter of the modern indigenous rights movement in the United States. For almost a year, hundreds of tribal nations and allies unified in a historic gathering to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline. During the first few months, most mainstream media ignored the story but fortunately there were a handful of indigenous photographers, filmmakers, and citizen journalists that took initiative to document it. We as indigenous people were telling our own story and that was powerful.’
2nd place: Delphine Blast
‘The iconic bowler hat, the long black braids, the adjusted corset, and the brightly colored puffed skirt: their outfit is well known all around the world. The mythical cholitas are a strong symbol of Bolivia. In colloquial Spanish, the “cholita” means a young Bolivian woman very identified with the indigenous culture. These women have always retained the characteristic fashion style of the Aymara tradition, from the plains of the Altiplano that surround the capital, La Paz. Yet for decades, they have suffered an important racial and social discrimination. The term “cholita”, very pejorative then, pointed to the poor country girl, deprived of all her rights.
Everything changed in 2006 with the election of Evo Morales. First Amerindian president in the history of Bolivia, it has enhanced the status of the cholitas and has brought them to the front of the stage. They acquired little by little a new status in the Bolivian society especially through their outfit that is unique to them. In scenes that were unimaginable 10 or 20 years ago, nowadays they have real clout in the economic, political, and even fashion worlds. The new generation of the cholitas wears today the colors of their origins with pride. Between tradition and modernity, they manage to express their cultural heritage, but also their plight for recognition among the urban society.
3rd place: Chris Hopkins
‘The Mentawai of Indonesia are one of the world’s last remaining hunter-gatherer tribes, however, globalisation and deforestation is threatening to destroy their peaceful and subsistent way of life. Their culture and knowledge of the surrounding natural ecosystems is now on the verge of disappearing forever. For more information on how to assist in the cultural education program to save the Mentawai please visitwww.iefprograms.org/wafsac ‘
4th place: Manuel Seoane
‘During the whole year I’ve been working inside these urban Aymara celebrations I have seen how modernity and economic power have gained so much presence and importance for them. Some people criticise this fact, as polluting or alienating the ancient traditions and it is understandable. But perhaps it is also the only way for them to conserve some of their indigenous culture, while struggling to be accepted in a modern and globalised society’.
Artistic Merit: Somenath Mukhopadhyay
‘I am really delighted to know that my photo of a bohurupee (art of masquerading) artist along with his sons walking back home through the golden alleys of mustard fields has been chosen for the Artistic Merit Award. I am honoured and humbled’.