It’s not often that art and governance come together. For, while one draws from experiences and feeds on emotions, the other is all about management and control something art liberally frowns upon. And yet, on the rare occasions that the two meet, the result can be startling, as was evident at ShootNations 2007 a global youth photography competition for people aged between 11 and 24.
‘Governance’ was the theme of the competition, which received 1,500 entries from 85 countries. The winning photographs of these were exhibited in Delhi recently. The exhibition had earlier travelled to Berlin, London and Burkina Faso. “Though the theme of the competition was quite difficult, the exhibition had many interesting pictures in terms of ideas, colour and composition,” said photographer Raghu Rai, a special invitee at the exhibition.
The brief for the participating children and youth was to take pictures of: what upsets you? What can you do about it? Who listens to you? Who do you look up to? And who rules?
Armed with the brief, the young people trained their cameras on several issues, such as poverty, politics, destitution, homelessness and environment.
Says 22-year-old Vikas Gupta, the boy from Delhi whose picture was among those on display, “I wanted to show how the youth are collectively trying to make their voice heard. The competition was a good opportunity for young people like me to translate our ideas into images.”
The five-member jury, which included Daily Mirror photographer Roger Allen and Maitreyi Maheshwari, curator of the youth programme at Tate Modern, selected 16-year-old Egyptian, Maher’s, photograph of tiny hands trying to break through a closed door as the winning entry.
This is how the jury described the picture: “The overall winning photograph has been chosen for the strength and positivity of its message. We loved the simplicity of the image and above all the creative concept, which both captures and overcomes the struggle to be seen and heard. The central fisted hand is a powerful symbol and shows the possibilities of breaking boundaries and defeating life’s obstacles.”
That is exactly what the children and the young adult photographers hope to achieve.