Magnum Foundation : mission and perspectives
© Emine Ziyatdinova - Emergency Fund fellow 2012
© Bruce Gilden / Magnum Photos - 2010 Emergency Fund Grantee
© Pete Pin - 2011 Emergency Fund Fellow
© Sim Chi Yin/VII Photo Mentor Program - 2010 Human Rights Fellow
© Liu Jie - 2012 Human Rights Fellow
© Zalmai 2011 - Emergency Fund Grantee
© Henri Cartier-Bresson / Magnum Photos
© Steve McCurry / Magnum Photos
© Werner Bischof / Magnum Photos
© Patrick Zachmann / Magnum Photos
The Magnum Foundation (MF) was founded in 2007 in New York. The organization is independent of the agency but relies on the historical values of its members to support documentary photography internationally. In order to develop different activities around this unifying idea, the Magnum Foundation London was established, along with the Magnum Photos Endowment Fund in Paris. The auction organized by Sotheby’s would help the Fund grow into a Foundation dedicated to the preservation of 65 years of visual history. The people behind this concept include Susan Meiselas–a Magnum photographer and the director of MF New York, Julien Frydman–ex-director of Magnum Photos Paris, Marco Bischof–a documentary film maker and the son of famous Magnum Photographer Werner Bischof, and Martine Franck who just passed away –who had already established the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson in Paris and whose passion and engagement have been decisive in the definition of MF international vision. Their intention, on a global scale, is to collect and contextualize an heritage and to built an ongoing and reasoned history of documentary photography.
The approach of this project is primarily historical, consisting of archiving, digitalization and contextualization of diverse content, ranging from personal and private photographs to letters, contact sheets, interviews, editor assignment notes, photographic archives, and movies. All these documents help define the evolution of a complex visual language which evolved just after World War Two, and help put into perspective the way we look at history in different places and times. The continued availability of these archives and their continuous updating are an invaluable resource for photographers, researchers and the general public, starting now and moving forward into the future. The Magnum Foundation encourages traditional methods of promoting and diffusing photography, as well as promoting new forms of storytelling in traditional and new media
Under the lead of Emma Raynes, the program director, MF New York is particularly engaged in supporting new and innovated forms of visual language. Started in 2010, the Emergency Fund consists in granting outside photographers seed money to cover travel and per diem expenses. 10-15 photographers are chosen from a pool of 100 photographers nominated by international curators, publishers, and photo editors. The Foundation distributes nearly $100,000 each year to a new generation of visual creators. The EF supports passionate photographers working on under-reported issues related to social injustice. Between ten and fifteen photographers are rewarded each year. In addition to the money rewarded from the grants, each recipient also benefits from editorial and distribution support.
Since its inception, the Emergency Fund has been awarded to photographers representative of many forms of documentary styles. The next group of grant winners will be announced in January 2013 and they no doubt promise to represent a rich diversity .
The Emergency Fund is only one of several awards distributed by the Foundation. The EF Fellowship is a two month program offered to recent graduates. It consists of an editorial internship at the Foundation and a small stipend which is meant to help them complete an under-reported story based in New York City. The New York University Human Rights Fellowship is another Magnum Foundation award that provides the opportunity for students based outside the United States and Western Europe to study photojournalism in NYC under the direction of Fred Ritchin and Susan Meiselas. The Foundation then plans to put together an online database compiling exemplary projects on human rights in order to stimulate the production of striking and original subjects.
Through its various activities and values - togetherness, transmission of knowledge and commitment to the creation of tomorrow - the Foundation is beginning to establish itself as a key player for a community of people who consider visual storytelling as a tool for deciphering the world.