Following the launch of the Leica Women Foto Project earlier this year – a platform dedicated to the expansion of diversity and inclusion in photography – Leica Camera USA is proud to announce the three recipients of the inaugural Leica Women Foto Project Award. From over 600 submissions across the United States, photographers Debi Cornwall, Yana Paskova and Eva Woolridge were selected by a prestigious panel of judges in the photography, art and entertainment industries to each receive $10,000 and a Leica Q2 to pursue a personal project that tells a story through the female viewpoint.
Debi Cornwall was chosen for her series Necessary Fictions, which explores the staging and performance of American power in immersive, realistic military wargames. In this project, Cornwall photographs the mysterious country of “Atropia.” Though fictional, Atropia actually exists: mock Afghan and Iraqi villages have been constructed on military bases across the United States to host immersive, realistic military training exercises for troops preparing to deploy. On ten such sites around the country, Cornwall documents these mock villages, battle scenarios, and “cultural role-players,” with the goal of examining how fictions are deployed and embraced, and to invite critical inquiry among military and civilian viewers alike about a society in which war has become the rule rather than the exception. Cornwall will use the funding from the Leica Women Foto Project Award to continue the story of Necessary Fictions and to explore how fiction and reality blur within the post-9/11 “fantasy-industrial complex.”
Yana Paskova is a Bulgaria-born, Chicago-bred, Brooklyn-based photojournalist and writer who uses her experience as a political asylum immigrant to find a way to bridge humans’ understanding of each other. Paskova will utilize the award funds to continue developing her photographic series, Where Women Rule. She describes the project as “a visual and sociological look at what happens when cultural norms of gender are amended or removed — via the all-female societies across the world, where women gather for shelter or in matriarchy — leaving us with new notions of femininity and masculinity, human bonds, family, and the fluid boundaries of identity.”
As told through her lens as a self-proclaimed African-American and Chinese-American queer woman, Eva Woolridgewill round out the inaugural LWFP recipient class by bringing her personal experiences to life in her project The Size of a Grapefruit. The series is an artistic interpretation of Woolridge’s medically traumatic experiences following her diagnosis of a dermoid cyst – the size of a grapefruit – and consequential removal of her right ovary, which she believes could have been saved had medical professionals taken swifter action following their early conversations. With the assistance of the Leica Women Foto Project, Woolridge aims to bring to light more stories of black women worldwide who experience racial bias through a visual representation of their perseverance, grit and subsequent empowerment cultivated from their specific challenges.
“The Leica Women Foto Project is a keystone program for Leica Camera USA as we expand opportunities to amplify visual stories told through the lenses of underrepresented perspectives. The overwhelming response of hundreds of USA-based submissions in just our first year alone is indicative of the ongoing need for platforms that invite conversations that provoke new ways of seeing.” says Kiran Karnani, Director of Marketing for Leica Camera North America. “We welcome Debi, Yana, and Eva to the Leica family of storytellers and we look forward to the continued evolution of their impactful stories.”
The projects submitted by Cornwall, Paskova, and Woolridge were carefully selected by five influential women in the photography, art and entertainment industries, which included:
- Karin Kaufmann, Art Director & Chief Representative, Leica Galleries International
- Maggie Steber, VII Agency photographer and Guggenheim fellow
- Elizabeth Avedon, photography book and exhibition designer, independent curator and writer
- Laura Roumanos, executive producer and co-founder, United Photo Industries
- Deborah Willis, university professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and author of Envisioning Emancipation: Black Americans and the End of Slavery
The Q2s Cornwall, Paskova and Woolridge will each receive will initially be provided as one-year loans to kickstart a legacy program helping to foster community among recipients. At the end of the term, the cameras will be passed on to the next three winners of the 2020 award. A replacement Leica camera will be offered to the initial set of recipients to continue documenting their journey through the lens of a Leica.
All three women will showcase photographs from their respective projects in a joint exhibit at Leica Gallery Boston beginning March 5, 2020 through April 26, 2020 where visitors can view the journey of their personal projects. To learn more about the Leica Women Foto Project Award and the 2019 recipients, visit http://bit.ly/Leica_Women and @leicacamerausa on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
SOURCE Leica Camera USA
Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of TNC Network.