Democracy Dies in Darkness

In Sight | Perspective

Emerging photographers confront race, gender and environment issues in the 2018 Flash Forward Emerging Photographers Competition

May 10, 2018 at 9:00 AM

“Grandma’s fur”; The photographer’s cousin, Laura, wearing their grandma’s fur. She sits on the bed in a room their grandmother used to call “The French room.” (Nina Röder)

The Magenta Foundation’s Flash Forward Emerging Artists Competition announced its 2018 winners. The competition began 13 years ago, the intention was to support and encourage emerging photographers in Canada, the U.S. and U.K.

Flash Forward 2018 was open to emerging photographers (34 years or under, as of Dec. 31, 2017), in all forms of photography, from all over the world. This was also the first year that areas of special interest were introduced, the 2018 categories being Racial Issues, Climate and the Environment, LGBTQ Issues, and Female-Identifying Photographers.

The following photographers were the special interest winners for 2018.

Nina Röder, a conceptual photographer based in Berlin, was honored in the “Female-Identifying Photographers” special category. She noted that most of her work is of women, her favorite model being her mother.

“She is the one who is — next to a lot of other interesting factors — responsible for who I am. I guess we always want to know: Who am I? Why do I act like that? Why do I think like that? I have a very special relation to my mum. Sometimes we love each other, and sometimes my mum is just a diva.”

Her mother is featured in several photographs in Röder’s winning project, which was made when her family had to clean out her grandparents’ house after their passing. They had lived in the home for over 60 years after being expelled from Bohemia and moving to Germany to start a new life after World War II. As Röder, her mother and a cousin decided what to keep and what to give away, she made this series of photographs to help them from being overcome by sadness.

Left: “Magic”; the photographer’s mother, Dagmar, in her old room. Right: “Mum being hysteric”; “My mum’s favorite pose. When she feels it’s just too much.” (Nina Röder)
Cleopatra and Jennifer under the bridge. (Jan Hoek)

Jan Hoek, an art photographer from Amsterdam, won in the LGBTQ Issues category for his photographs in collaboration with designer Duran Lantink, “Sistaaz of the Castle,” which looked at the fashions of transgender sex workers in Cape Town, South Africa. The local sex workers’ organization, SWEAT, gave Jan Hoek and Duran Lantink the opportunity to meet and collaborate with their transgender support group Sistaazhood.

Many of the workers photographed were homeless but talented at creating fashion pieces from found materials, which Hoek photographed them wearing in sets that represented dream environments for them.

“We want to show the world that all those amazing girls are not only sex workers and trans, but also the most thrilling fashion icons this world has to offer,” Hoek said.

“They all make their own clothes. Even when they live under a bridge, they are so creative that they always look better than anyone we see walking over the catwalks. And we are really happy that we won this prize and now more people recognize the style of these wonderful creative girls.”

Left: Dream picture of Coco, 25: “I want to go to New York and be the flames of the torch of the Statue of Liberty. I want to see countries all over the world and be the whole universe.” Right: Dream picture of Flavinia, 32: “I want to become an African supermodel. I want to be different, so that people can see I am trans and a supermodel, so that I can be an example for others.” (Jan Hoek)
The green dress that Maysa was using when Luisa Dörr first met her, hanging on a windowpane in her home in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She was in the public, watching a local beauty contest, dreaming in being one of them one day. (Luisa Dörr)

Luisa Dörr, winner for the Racial Issues category, still lives in works in her native Brazil. In response to winning the category, she told In Sight, “Sometimes it becomes difficult to continue. There is not always money for projects, or energy. I believe this award can give me the self-esteem that I need to keep doing what I feel is right.”

Her project confronts racism through the life of a budding model and pageant queen, Maysa. Dörr met Maysa at “Young Miss Brazil,” in April 2014, where she learned the contest has two categories, one for black women and another for white. “Young Miss Brazil Black Beauty” was started to encourage black participants. Months later, Maysa contacted her to photograph her personal portfolio.

In her artist statement, Dörr said, “Brazil and Young Miss Brazil Black Beauty created to encourage black girls to participate. Racism is, unfortunately, very common, although approximately 50 percent of Brazilians are black. The vast majority live in a marginal perpetual status. Months later, Maysa contacted me for a photo shoot for her personal portfolio, and said she wanted to give the 2015 contest a try. What was supposed to be a simple gift became a work in progress. We started to get in touch, and month after month we developed a strong friendship. One that is helping me to be aware of a thought reality of my country; racism, sexism, social exclusion and struggle to survive.”

Maysa prays before her turn on stage during the final contest for Young Miss Sao Paulo on Jan. 21, 2015, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Luisa Dörr)
Maysa Miss Sao Paulo Black Beauty, Carol Ferraresi; Camila Santos Silva, second princess of Sao Paulo; and Thais Silva, first Princess of Sao Paulo, on March 10, 2015. (Luisa Dörr)
The bodies of sheep and goats that died due to the severe drought in Somaliland lie where they fell in an animal market outside Geerisa, one of the epicenters of the crisis, on April 7, 2017. (Nichole Sobecki/VII)

Nichole Sobecki, winner of the Climate and Environment special interest category, is a photographer and filmmaker based in Nairobi. Her work focused on the effects of civil war coupled with climate change in Somalia, which she undertook with reporting partner Laura Heaton, with the support of the GroundTruth Project.

She told In Sight she was thrilled to see entry categories on pressing issues and emphasized the motivations for her project.

“These images focus on the ways in which climate change and environment degradation in Somalia are pushing people into desperate choices, including violence and migration. It’s about how man’s relationship to the natural world is being rewritten now — not for our grandchildren, not in some far away future, but now — and the often-unacknowledged relationship between our environment and security.”

The Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) searches a fishing boat for arms while on patrol off the coast of Bosaso, the largest city in the Somali region, on May 15, 2016. The PMPF is a security force created to eradicate piracy, although members have been accused of violating the arms embargo and participating in internal security operations by United Nations arms monitors. (Nichole Sobecki/VII)
A woman walks through a cactus field in a drought-stricken area of western Somaliland, a semiautonomous region in the north of Somalia, on April 6, 2016. (Nichole Sobecki/VII)

Chloe Coleman is a photo editor at The Washington Post. She was one of 21 judges for the 2018 Flash Forward competition.

More on In Sight:

Three winners of the CatchLight Fellowships question our concepts of democracy, policing and representation

These surreal nightscapes are a photographer’s ode to Detroit

‘My life is at risk’ : Voices from the caravan

In Sight is The Washington Post’s photography blog for visual narrative. This platform showcases compelling and diverse imagery from staff and freelance photographers, news agencies and archives. If you are interested in submitting a story to In Sight, please complete this form.

Chloe Coleman is a photo editor at The Washington Post working in Outlook and Foreign news focusing on The Americas, Europe and Russia. She is regular contributor to the In Sight blog. She joined the Post in 2014.

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