19 January 2022
19 January 2022 - Written by PhMuseum
What does it mean to receive a grant from a personal and professional perspective? Read the stories shared by the 2021 prize receivers, who walk us through their experiences and offer advice to this year’s applicants.
The Grants Program launched ten years ago is one of the cornerstones of PhMuseum to create inclusive and meaningful opportunities for photographers around the globe. The grants retain multidimensional significance for the recipients. Awards represent a form of financial support, whilst they also allow artists to raise their personal ambitions and discuss sensitive topics that might be silenced in different contexts. We have talked about the meaning of the prizes with last year’s recipients, in order to understand their consequential progress.
The Brazilian duo composed of Rodrigo Pinheiro and Gal Cipreste Marinelli won the first prize with the project Gh, Gal and Hiroshima, an autobiographical series envisaging childhood memories of gender-based violence. The artists assert: “Winning the PhMuseum 2021 Grant seemed inconceivable. This recognition was a huge surprise and an injection of confidence. The pandemic period had detonated so many possibilities for us Brazilian artists. We had even set that series aside for a while. The current government works towards extermination, especially if you are part of a minority. We were extremely happy that the winners told relevant stories, stories that should last, that cannot be just an intermittent fad. We are aware that talking about gender violence and LGBTQIA+ lives may one day no longer be the priority in photography circles. Having won this grant filled us with hope. Along with the announcement of the award, there was a text written by one of the curators of the jury. Receiving these words showed that the jury is really aware of what is sent. Giuseppe - PhMuseum Director - was also extremely attentive to us”.
In terms of advice for new applicants, the Brazilian duo highlights that “Your photography, more than being technically good, needs to answer the questions of our time. Select a powerful portfolio, accompanied by words that make us understand your motivations and your approach. Follow your intuition”.
Our grants are not only about financial support, but they can also encourage a shift from an amateur to a professional attitude, like third prize winner Daniel Mebarek with La Lucha Continua claimed: “The prize helped me overcome a period of great self-doubt about my artistic practice and gave me the confidence I needed to continue my projects. Receiving this recognition felt very special for me, especially considering it’s my first project and I’m still a “bedroom artist” with a job on the side. Since then, I’ve decided to be more ambitious about my work and allow myself to dream bigger. After many months of uncertainty caused by the pandemic, I’m happy that I will soon be travelling to Bolivia to resume my project”. Daniel Mebarek also emphasises how the application process in itself can represent “a great opportunity to re-evaluate where you stand on your project, which can be particularly useful if it’s still an ongoing one. Personally, preparing my application to the grant helped me fine-tune my sequencing and editing and see my work in a different light”.
As advice for photographers applying to the PhMuseum 2022 Photography Grant, Daniel says to “trust your gut and submit a project that feels meaningful to you and your community. Stay true to who you are and don’t be afraid to be bold. It’s also important to have fun with your application and avoid overthinking things since art-making is also about being playful.” With regards to the application statement, Daniel says that it is central to attempt to communicate how the project “addresses issues that we should all care about”. From an editing perspective, “including well-formatted captions can also show that you’ve put care into your application and that every image counts for you”.
Marisol Mendez was awarded the New Generation Prize with the project MADRE, which challenged the Madonna-Whore complex existing in Bolivia through the portrayal of its women. Marisol’s words showcase the multi-layered impact of the grant she received: “Winning the New Generation Prize helped me continue pursuing my long-term project MADRE. On one hand, the grant allowed me to financially support its realisation. On the other, the recognition motivated me to trust my instincts and keep nurturing my practice. It’s through this boost of confidence that I was able to widen my horizons and reach new audiences”.
These are undeniably difficult times. The pandemic has affected the possibilities to work and engage with culture. Marisol comments: “This year has been difficult due to the ripples of the pandemic which continue to trample the global economy and confine many artists. But despite these difficulties, 2021 has been the year in which my photography gained unprecedented visibility. I believe the award had a lot to do with that. Besides providing me with economic support, it connected me to other creators, to curators, editors and mentors. This resulted in many opportunities to keep showcasing and expanding my work”. Marisol reiterates how the grant is a great launching platform as it provides you with financial aid and gives your work significant visibility. Participating also allows you to come in contact with artists and other amazing practitioners within the industry and perhaps establish friendships and connections that will enhance your practice for the year to come.
The PhMuseum Photography Grant has established itself as a leading prize in the industry over the past ten years, renowned for celebrating the importance of contemporary photography and supporting the careers of emerging artists through monetary prizes and various opportunities across international festivals and online media. You are welcome to present your work before 17 February 2021 at 11.59 pm (GMT). Learn more and apply at phmuseum.com/g22. Good luck!
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