The 23rd edition of Open Society Foundations’ Moving Walls exhibition celebrates the human spirit through the photographs of Shahria Sharmin, Glenna Gordon, Jeanine Michna-Bales, Liam Maloney and Dionysis Kouris. Each of their projects depicts groups of people who, in difficult and even life threatening circumstances, have fought for the freedom to live as they see fit.
In her black-and-white photographs, Sharmin introduces us to Hijra, people in India and Bangladesh who were designated male at birth but identify as women. Ranging in age, these people representing “The Third Gender” have persevered in the face of ostracism: finding community, building families, loving and being loved. Gordon’s color portraits depict a small group of Nigerian Muslim women who write literature in defiance of censorship. Relying on historic records, Jeanine Michna-Bales has made color images that imagine the journey to freedom made by an American slave along the Underground Railroad. Dionysis Kouris’s photographs tell the stories of migrants squatting in an abandoned Columbia Records office building in Athens, Greece. Liam Maloney’s installation combines photographs of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and the text messages they exchange with family and friends living through the civil war, emphasizing digital communication as a tool for the preservation of humanity amid conflict. Viewers of Maloney’s installation are invited to connect and receive messages on their own phones as they view the images.
Moving Walls 23 is on display at Open Society Foundations–New York through May 13, 2016, and the work can also be viewed on the organization’s website. —Conor Risch
Galleries: Pictures With a Purpose (For PDN subscribers; Log in required)