Magnum Photos: Re-presenting the Archive
10 November 2019
10:59 PM

By clicking "Start Submission", you agree to be contacted by the host regarding this opportunity.


We are seeking proposals from early-career South African photographers to make new work in response to a curation of the Magnum Archive by Mark Sealy (Director, Autograph ABP). Two photographers will be selected from the open submissions to join a group with two other pre-selected South African photographers from the Of Soul and Joy project (one of which is Magnum nominee Lindokuhle Sobekwa). The selected photographers will receive grants of 45,000 South African Rand, as well as access to workshops (with other selected photographers), mentoring, and will be included in a final group exhibition and publication where their work will be shown alongside the curation of the Magnum archive by Mark Sealy

Magnum Photos: Re-presenting the Archive

The aim of this investigation is to explore the work that images do in culture, in relation to race and colonial African histories.

From its establishment in 1947 to the present day, Magnum photographers have been at the forefront of western photographic documentation. As the world's photographic and reproduction environment developed and expanded so too did the agency which was formed at a time that was marked by the ravages of WWII and major shifts in global power structures that heralded the beginning of the end of old imperial regimes of power and announced the Cold War as a new political reality.

Here, the Magnum archive is used as a site of critical enquiry concerning the photographic making of Africa through western journalistic tropes. This project functions as an investigation into the who, the what, the why and the when, in relation to the photographs produced by Magnum photographers in Africa after WWII and how these images have influenced our understanding of African politics and culture.

This archive curation selects key moments in modern African history for reassessment; these include Senegalese soldiers marching for the Free French troops on the streets of Algiers in 1943, South African elections in 1948 when the Reunited National Party came to power preceding the implementation of apartheid, an examination of the photographs made during the Mau Mau trials of 1954, the events surrounding the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, to the first Pan African festival in 1968 and its international significance.

Photographic Dialogue

We invite early career South African photographers to begin a dialogue with this archive, with the histories presented in this image selection, by submitting short proposals of new work they would like to make in South Africa in response to this selection, or to the thematics or wider issues raised in the selection.

Mark Sealy's curatorial statement: Decolonial Archive Work / Shops

The African Magnum archival material is being researched by Mark Sealy of Autograph ABP.

The announcement of photography's invention in January 1839 by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre in France and Henry William Fox Talbot in England represents a defining moment in the history of Western visual culture, particularly when we consider the dominant European ideologies of the mid nineteenth century and the impact of Enlightenment thought on different cultures at that time. Photographic images played a critical and important role in the constructions of the "Other". It would therefore be valuable as a curatorial line of enquiry to define the conditions in which we can begin to investigate the archive. By creating a space for new critical photographic dialogues and engagements to emerge, we can begin to make the space for new knowledge about the work archival images do in the present.

Much of the discourse around the history of photography has been preoccupied with defining the photographic canon or considering the photograph in relation to the history of art; leading to the construction and presentation of a populist history of photography that is dominated by Western photographers. It is important to read photography in terms of time, space and distance and to consider the work that a photograph does across different cultures, political perspectives, and contested histories. This requires an examination of photography's application across the ideological constructions of difference that make up photography's difficult genealogies.

Link to further information and images:

Call for Work

Magnum (and partners) are inviting proposals from photographers/photographic artists for a commission and exhibition that questions the role of the archive in creating histories, and asks for artists to respond to a curation of the Magnum archive by Mark Sealy.

What We Are Looking For

Magnum are looking for two early career photographers (or photographic artists) to respond to Mark Sealy's curation of the Magnum Photos archive, by making new photographic work in response to the content or thematics in the selection. Applicants may interpret this in the broadest sense and possible topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • Colonialism / Decolonialism
  • Politics and political systems
  • Public space
  • Themes of identity, belonging, community, and home
  • Economics and industry
  • Themes of culture, music, arts, leisure

Projects considered for the grant may be continuing an ongoing body of work, or creating a new body of work related to the broader themes of the exhibit. We will consider applications from visual artists working with photographic source material.

Applicants must briefly outline how they will respond to the archive and how they will use the grant.

Successful applicants will be selected by a professional jury and will be expected to participate in a short phone interview before the final selection. Successful applicants will be notified by mid November, and will be asked to participate in a kick off workshop from 26-29 January 2020.


Participants should be based in South Africa and "early career", by which we define as under 35 years old, and having had no more than one solo show at a gallery or institution. We encourage applications from those who are underrepresented in the industry including: Non-graduates, Women and non-binary people, People from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds, Disabled people, People from low socio-economic backgrounds.

What we provide

Selected participants will attend a kick off workshop in Johannesburg in January 2020. At this workshop Mark Sealy's research will be expanded upon and participants will develop their project proposals with mentors and the group.

Selected participants will receive:

  • A grant of 45,000 South African Rand in order to create new work.
  • Access to two tailored workshops (with participation from all selected photographers) to assist with project development.
  • Travel expenses and accommodation to/from the two workshops.
  • Mentoring from Kabelo Malatsie, Mark Sealy and Magnum photographer Mikhael Subotzky.
  • Regional and international networking opportunities.
  • Personalised professional practice support.

Selected participants will also have their work shown in a group exhibition alongside work from the Magnum archive (as curated by Mark Sealy). Exhibition printing and framing will be covered, and an associated publication may be made.

Participation and Requirements

Participants are required to adhere to all production deadlines (see timeline section below) and travel to Johannesburg for the initial and final workshop and attend the opening reception, press conference, related programming and events (September 2020).

Selected participants will be responsible for organising their own travel. Travel cost reimbursement/coverage will be provided.

The grant term shall be between 6-8 months, to start no sooner than November 2019 and end by September 2020.


Call for entries open
23 September 2019
Submission deadline
10 November 2019
Early November 2019 Phone interviews, selection & announcement
November 2019
December - May Production of new work
December 2019
End of January 2020 Participants meet in Johannesburg for kick off meeting
January 2020
July Final workshop
July 2020
August Production
August 2020
September Final exhibition and public programme
September 2020



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Selection Panel

Mark Sealy
Director of Autograph ABP
Dr Mark Sealy MBE is interested in the relationship between photography and social change, identity politics, race, and human rights. He has been director of London-based photographic arts charity Autograph ABP since 1991 and has produced numerous artist publications, curated exhibitions, and commissioned photographers and filmmakers worldwide, including the critically acclaimed Human Rights Human Wrongs exhibition curated for Ryerson Image Centre, Toronto, in 2013 and The Photographers' Gallery, London, in 2015.

Kabelo Malatsie
Director of Visual Arts Network of South Africa
Kabelo Malatsie is an independent curator living and working in Johannesburg. She joined VANSA (Visual Arts Network South Africa) as Director in June 2018 until Sep 2019. VANSA operates as a support point and development agency for contemporary art practice in South Africa. Previously she worked as an associate in the curatorial team at Stevenson gallery in Cape Town and Johannesburg from 2011 until 2016, representing the gallery at art fairs and biennales and working closely with artists, collectors and curators. Her Master’s degree in Art History from the University of the Witwatersrand explores alternative funding and institutional models that are rooted in their viability within a South African context. Malatsie also holds an Honours degree in Curatorship from the University of Cape Town and an undergraduate degree in BCom Marketing Management from the University of Johannesburg. She was a participant of Independent Curators International’s Curatorial Intensive in Accra in 2017 and the 9th Berlin Biennale Young Curators Workshop in 2016.

Sophie Wright
Global Cultural Director at Magnum Photos
Sophie Wright has worked at Magnum Photos since 2003. Her role as Global Cultural Director includes the origination and steering of the agency's global cultural strategy, to also include the origination and curation of a variety of activities for its membership across the globe.

Emily Graham
Emily Graham oversees Magnum's UK exhibitions, cultural commissions and special projects. Additionally, she was the co-founder and director of Night Contact, a multimedia and photography organisation that supports and promotes contemporary image making, bringing together innovative photographic works that provoke or engage in conversations with other media, such as film, music and literature.

Shannon Ghannam
Shannon Ghannam is the Global Education Director at Magnum Photos, responsible for the celebrated agency's educational programming globally, including the recently launched online learning platform Magnum Learn Previously she managed Content Strategy and Development at Reuters, working to showcase on multiple platforms the agency’s multimedia content. Shannon has collaborated on numerous photographic books, international exhibitions and multimedia projects including the Emmy award winning photojournalism app Reuters The Wider Image. Shannon has worked in various roles during a 20 year career including Screen Labs, Night Contact photography and multimedia festival, Australian Associated Press (AAP), The Australian Photojournalist Journal, The National Archives of Australia as well as developing a year long collaborative portraiture project with refugee communities for the Australian Red Cross. She studied at the Queensland College of Art in Brisbane, Australia where she graduated with First Class Honours in Photography.

This is a a project initiated by Magnum Photos, Archival Curation by Mark Sealy, Contemporary Curation by Kabelo Malatsie, with support from the South African Ministry of Culture and Rubis Mécénat cultural fund, as part of the Of Soul and Joy project.

10 November 2019
10:59 PM

By clicking "Start Submission", you agree to be contacted by the host regarding this opportunity.