2019 CatchLight Fellows: Changing the Narrative Through Visual Storytelling & Distribution Platforms

SAN FRANCISCO - CatchLight announces today their 2019 Fellows: Pierre Terdjman, Tasneem Alsultan, Alexandra Bell, and Sparsh Ahuja. The CatchLight Fellowship provides four visionaries in the field $30,000 grants to realize a long-form storytelling project or to continue their work as leaders committed to advancing and growing the field of visual storytelling.

In its third year, CatchLight added a fourth Fellowship and opened the call for entries to include innovative leaders in the field. Notes CatchLight’s newly appointed CEO Elodie Mailliet Storm, “This year's CatchLight Fellows are pushing the boundaries of visual storytelling through both courageous narratives and through innovative platforms, which foster community dialogue and engagement. In a complimentary way they each aim, through their craft and leadership, to foster a better and more empathetic world. We are proud to welcome the new class of visual storytelling leaders to the CatchLight Fellowship program.”

In addition to financial grants, the CatchLight Fellowship offers support for project development and amplification, as well as mentorship opportunities through its vibrant community of creative thought leaders across media, art and entrepreneurship. CatchLight Fellows also have the opportunity to engage with the organization’s media, exhibition and educational partners, The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, the International Center for Photography (ICP), and United Photo Industries, among others.

Providing platforms for new narratives and exploring innovative distribution methods, such as public art, online applications, virtual reality, and analog newsprint, the CatchLight Fellows are each looking to improve the overall state of visual storytelling and change how narratives are told or how we understand narrative in the world, in the news, and across borders.  

“The incredible caliber of candidates that applied to CatchLight’s Fellowship is emblematic of the growing popularity and impact of the program,” notes Storm.  “This year we received over 300 applicants from 61 countries, up from 53 countries last year and saw a continued gender balance with marked increase in the ethnic diversity of applicants.”

Previous CatchLight Fellows include Brian L. Frank, whose project on the criminalization of minority youth, is rapidly establishing new ground for dialogue amongst key stakeholders in the criminal justice system. Frank’s “Visions of Justice” photography workshop led for formerly incarcerated students, in partnership with Project Rebound was featured in Vice and is currently an exhibition on view at the San Francisco District Attorney’s office.

2018 CatchLight Fellows Aida Muluneh, founder of Addis Photo Fest, and Andrea Bruce, National Geographic photographer, and documentary filmmaker Carlos Javier Ortiz will discuss their projects during the CatchLight Visual Storytelling Summit at the McEvoy Foundation for the Arts in San Francisco Sunday, April 7, 2019.

CatchLight extends a special thanks to this year’s Fellowship judges, which included a panel of experts from diverse backgrounds in the visual storytelling field. Lacy Austin, Director of Community Programs at the International Center of Photography; Zena Barakat, Design Director at IDEO; Anna Dickson, Visual Lead on Image Search at Google; Sahar Habib-Ghazi, Board Member Media Matters for Democracy; Jayanta Jenkins, Executive Creative Director at HP, Inc. and co-founder of Saturday Mornings; Teru Kuwayama, Photographer and Media Advisor; Lekgetho Makola, Head: Market Photo Workshop.

2019 CATCHLIGHT FELLOW PROJECTS

Pierre Terdjman
In 2014 Pierre Terdjman launched the non-profit, Dysturb to present and stimulate dialog around contemporary global issues using the most basic social network: the streets.
Distributing mural-sized photographs in public spaces that address the crucial issues of our time enables Terdjman and Dysturb artists to direct people’s attention to visual depictions and contextualized information.

Entitled "WomenMatter", this series of activations aims at reexamining the agency, action, complexity, and abuse of women of various classes and backgrounds around the world. To reach a wider audience, bypassing online filters while reconnecting with those who don’t necessarily read the news or don’t trust it, Dysturb and Terdjman will post dozens of photographs in three countries with the help of local partners: in Haiti, where 28% of women declare having been victims of physical violence; in Nigeria, where Boko Haram pursued a campaign of rape and sexual slavery; and in France, where 2018 has seen an upsurge of domestic violence, leading the government to implement additional dedicated supportive structures. Each activation will be paired with a digital campaign, in which a series of short videos published on Dysturb’s socials and website, available for our partners to share, featuring the voices of mothers, historians, fighters, artists, teachers, and activists.

To date, Dysturb has installed 1,300 posters in city hubs across 13 countries, featuring the work of 135 photojournalists worldwide. Dysturb also run an educational programming in order to reach the next generation of citizens. Since beginning, Dystub and Terdjman have visited 130 schools, universities, prisons and hospitals and reached more than 15,000 students.

Maasai-girls Isina & Naserian are sitting in their father's hut a day before their planned circumcision. Photo by Meeri Koutaniemi

Maasai-girls Isina & Naserian are sitting in their father's hut a day before their planned circumcision. Photo by Meeri Koutaniemi

Tasneem Alsultan
Arising from her own personal journey of marriage and divorce in Saudi, Tasneem’s project And Then There Were Women explores complexities of love, marriage, divorce and male guardianship in Saudi through personal stories of courageous Saudi women. Using a collaborative storytelling approach and taking advantage of growing popularity of social media in Saudi, as well as technology to reach domestic audiences, her project will build on others past efforts by joining forces with Saudi rights focused individuals and groups to raise awareness and promote dialogue about the legal and social limitations, including male guardianship, endured by Saudi women from birth until their deaths.

By sharing visual stories of real Saudi women via social media and by providing legal information available through a partnership with Know Your Rights, a unique Saudi mobile application providing information on laws concerning women’s rights, Tasneem will distribute her work and provide encouragement for Saudi women to claim their rights through existing loopholes. Overall, Tasneem’s work will contribute to cultivating safe virtual spaces where Saudi women can connect, share, and discuss critical issues impacting their lives.

Saudi Arabia – Aug 1, 2018: A group of relatives busy on their social media phone applications, at Al-Jenadriyah, a cultural festival in Riyadh. Photo by: Tasneem Alsultan

Saudi Arabia – Aug 1, 2018: A group of relatives busy on their social media phone applications, at Al-Jenadriyah, a cultural festival in Riyadh. Photo by: Tasneem Alsultan

Alexandra Bell
Creating large-scale works in a public setting, Alexandra Bell’s project creates a fictitious newspaper set in the future that explores issues such as housing crises, wealth inequality, prison reform, and other issues using a solutions journalism framework. The project combines public art, print newspaper articles, photojournalism, video, and radio to provide readers with engaging and critical ways of thinking through problems that disproportionately impact black and other marginalized communities.

Part of an ongoing longform, multimedia project, Bell’s project will challenge the general assumption that news that postures solutions violates a journalistic ethos by advocating for particular concerns. In fact, it is because news media is the vehicle through which the public receives most of its information about ways of being, that this is the best medium to deliver these concepts. Bell’s work will launch in 2020 and be distributed across 5 cities. Cities under consideration include Atlanta, Chicago, New York City, Oakland, and Philadelphia.

"A Teenager With Promise (Annotated)", 2017, MoMA PS1 (Photo: Charles Roussel) From the series “Counternarratives”

"A Teenager With Promise (Annotated)", 2017, MoMA PS1 (Photo: Charles Roussel) From the series “Counternarratives”

Sparsh Ahuja
Sparsh Ahuja’s work reconnects individuals displaced during the 1947 Partition of India, the largest forced migration in recorded history, to their ancestral homes through cutting edge VR technology. Ahuja’s project gives the user an empathetic understanding of what life was like under the Empire. Distribution of a peace-building project has never been attempted through VR. However, invited to British Parliament in February 2019 to discuss how VR be used in the UK national curriculum, Ahuja deftly noted that the educational applications of the content are endless.  

Social awareness and engagement is the heart of Ahuja’s work. Over a million people died during the Partition, the result of which continues inform the views that Indians and Pakistanis hold of each-other to the present day. Ahuja aims to recognize and immortalize the experiences of the Partition generation. The Project is ultimately about creating a lasting impact between generations old and young, and their history; an understanding that is priceless in a world where borders are increasingly fluid and tensions continue to rise.

Dr Saida Siddiqui migrated from Lucknow to Karachi in 1957. She was born in Allahabad in 1933 and her family moved to Lucknow soon after. Saida has never been able to go back to Lucknow, but considers it as her home, and talks of the peepal (fig) tree with shining leaves outside her house, and the Pandit who sat there and used to give children sweets.

Dr Saida Siddiqui migrated from Lucknow to Karachi in 1957. She was born in Allahabad in 1933 and her family moved to Lucknow soon after. Saida has never been able to go back to Lucknow, but considers it as her home, and talks of the peepal (fig) tree with shining leaves outside her house, and the Pandit who sat there and used to give children sweets.

In addition to the 2019 Fellows, CatchLight would like to give Honorable Mentions to the finalists for this year’s fellowship.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

2019 CATCHLIGHT FELLOW BIOS

Pierre Terdjman
Pierre Terdjman is a French documentary photographer based in Paris, and the co- founder/director of Dysturb, an alternative media movement. He started his career for the left- wing Israeli daily Haaretz where he covered the Israelo-Palestinian conflict. He moved back to France in 2007 to work as a staff photographer at Gamma agency till 2009. Since then, he has worked as a freelance photographer for The New York Times, GQ Magazine and Paris-Match on post-electoral violence in Kenya, on the Russian-Georgian conflict, in Afghanistan and on the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti. More recently, he covered the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia, the fall of Mubarak in Egypt, the liberation struggle against Gaddafi in Libya, as well as the conflict in Central African Republic. He has also collaborated as a video director with NGOs such as AFD (Agence Française de développement) and Unicef, to document their projects in Niger and the Ivory Coast. His is represented by Myriam Bouagal Gallery in Paris.

Tasneem Alsultan
Born in the United States and raised between the United Kingdom and Saudi where she is currently based, Tasneem Alsultan is an investigative photographer, storyteller and global traveler. With an inquisitive eye and camera at hand, she offers intimate and unique perspectives into the everyday lives of her subjects, telling their stories from her heart while striving to humanize and connect their realities to her audiences. Her work largely focuses on documenting social issues and rights-based topics in Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf region through a gender lens, challenging stereotypical perceptions of the Middle East and portraying a region and people that do not conform to expectations. Covering stories primarily for The New York Times and National Geographic, Tasneem documents ground-breaking developments in Saudi and the region, including most recently, the lifting of the driving ban for Saudi women and the lifting of the ban on Saudi women entering sports arenas.

Having focused her research on anthropological studies of Saudi women, Tasneem holds a Master of Art in Social Linguistics from Portland State University and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Linguistics from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, Saudi.

Alexandra Bell
Alexandra Bell is a multidisciplinary artist who investigates the complexities of narrative, information consumption, and perception. Utilizing various media, she deconstructs language and imagery to explore the tension between marginal experiences and dominant histories. Through investigative research, she considers the ways media frameworks construct memory and inform discursive practices around race, politics, and culture.

Her work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, We Buy Gold, Koenig & Clinton Gallery, The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Atlanta Contemporary, Pomona College Museum of Art, Spencer Museum of Art, and Usdan Gallery at Bennington College. She received the 2018 International Center of Photography Infinity Award in the applied category and is a 2018 Soros Equality Fellow. Bell is part of the 2019 Whitney Biennial and has a Spring exhibition at the Charlie James Gallery (LA).

Bell holds a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies in the humanities from the University of Chicago and an M.S. in journalism from Columbia University. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

Sparsh Ahuja
Sparsh Ahuja is the Founder and Executive Director of Project Dastaan, an Oxford-based VR and oral history venture that seeks to reconnect individuals displaced during the 1947 Partition of India and Pakistan to their ancestral villages. He also co-founded a student leadership and empowerment initiative in Melbourne, Australia called Feel.Think.Flow, where he ran summits about Australian foreign policy to 200+ high school and university students. He worked as a summer associate last year at the Boston Consulting Group in London, and has more than 5 years in teaching experience across primary and secondary levels. Sparsh is a FitzRandolph Scholar in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) at St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford.