Since 2015, the Act On Your Future Foundation’s Human Rights Photography Award has been rewarding projects by emerging artists from the contemporary photography scene on themes that are topical in the world of politics and society. A reflection on our society driven by photography not to be missed.
Created in 2014 in Switzerland, the Act On Your Future Foundation, which is recognised as a public utility, aims in its words to promote human rights in an innovative way. According to Keyvan Ghavami, director and co-founder of the Foundation, photography very quickly became the medium that allowed us to highlight in an impactful way the current major issues of our society in terms of human rights.
“We have always been keen to talk about the major political, economic, social and environmental issues through images, with the idea that to mobilise the younger generation, images are a universal language, understandable by all, which allows us to go beyond stereotypes and to be much more tangible and concrete.
The creation of the AOYF Prize has enabled the Foundation to reward and support the work of photographers in the process of studying or recently graduated, while drawing attention to human rights issues. An educational challenge to raise awareness is thus perceived through all the themes addressed by the Prize, notably freedom of expression in 2015, the representation of the migration crisis in 2016, the rise of populism in 2017, gender equality in 2018, ecology and the climate emergency in 2020 and our relationship with new technologies this year. This desire is expressed in particular by the organisation of a series of round tables, practical workshops and school visits throughout the competition exhibition to raise awareness and make the major challenges of our time more tangible by crossing the views of the artists exhibited.
“Our aim is also to bring together different sectors of society, companies, schools, museums, collectors, major donors and NGOs based in Geneva, the world capital of human rights. All these people would not necessarily tend to meet and exchange on these major current themes carried by the still and moving image.
In partnership with six European art schools, ECAL Lausanne, HEAD Geneva, ENSP Arles, Royal College of Art London, HGB Leipzig and Aalto University in Espoo, Finland, as well as five renowned institutions including the Centre de la Photographie Genève, Christie’s, Human Rights Watch, the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights and MAPS, the Prize selects via an interdisciplinary jury the work of five artists which is exhibited at the Centre de la Photographie Geneva for one month, before offering CHF 10,000 to the winning artist. CHF 7,000 goes towards the production of an exhibition related to the winning project, and CHF 3,000 to the artist’s discretion. According to Keyvan Ghavami, “the idea here is to keep a link with the artist, to give continuity to his or her project and to enhance the network of partners and professionals working around the Foundation and the Prize.
In order to keep track and reach the widest possible audience, a retrospective catalogue has also been created for the 5th edition of the Prize and distributed to a good number of municipal libraries, schools and art schools. It includes all the human rights themes addressed in previous editions, the projects of the photographic artists in dialogue with the reflections and comments of the members of the jury each year.
While Keyvan Ghavami reminds us that the Foundation acts independently and without bias, its commitment is to remain as neutral and inclusive as possible, and it is up to the artists and the public to take up the issue addressed and to draw a reflection on it.
“Today more than ever, art has the responsibility to question current events and enrich our understanding of the world, allowing us to face the great challenges of our time with more optimism.”
17 May 2023
The 2023 AOYF Award Exhibition
Until 28 May 2023
Centre of Photography Geneva
Centre of Photography Geneva
Bac – Contemporary Art Building
28, rue des Bains,
CH – 1205 Geneva
Nominees: Rodrigo Alcocer de Garay (special mention of the jury), Yue Cheng, Thaddé Comar (winning project 2023), Luisa Tormenta and Yingying Zhang.
Winner: Thaddé Commar