Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project PDF
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Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project

Moving Walls 19

Application Guidelines




The Open Society Foundations invites photographers to submit a body of work for consideration in the Moving Walls 19 group exhibition.

Moving Walls is an exhibition series that features in-depth and nuanced explorations of human rights and social issues. Thematically linked to the Open Society Foundations’ mission, Moving Walls is exhibited at foundation offices in New York and Washington, DC and includes 6-7 discrete bodies of work.

Moving Walls recognizes the brave and difficult work that photographers undertake globally in their documentation of complex social and political issues. Their images provide the world with human rights evidence, put faces onto a conflict, document the struggles and defiance of marginalized people, reframe how issues are discussed publicly, and provide opportunities for reflection and discussion. Through Moving Walls, the Open Society Foundations honors this work while visually highlighting the mission of our foundation to staff and visitors.

For participating photographers, a key benefit of the program is to gain exposure for both the social justice or human rights issues they photograph, and for themselves as photographers. When the tour ends, photographers may keep their professionally-produced exhibition to use however they wish.

To view images from our recent exhibitions, please visit:



Areas of Interest

Since its inception in 1998, Moving Walls has featured over 100 photographers whose work addresses a variety of social justice and human rights issues that coincide with the Open Society Foundations’ mission.

Each Moving Walls exhibit includes six to seven distinct bodies of work that address issues or geographic regions where the Open Society Foundations are active. Priority is given to work whose subject has not been recently addressed in Moving Walls.


Listed below are some topics that are focus areas for the Open Society Foundations and about which we are interested in receiving submissions. Please note that photographers are welcome to submit their work for Moving Walls even if their subject area is not included on this list. All work submitted will be considered for exhibition. In addition to the focus areas listed below, please visit our website ( for a complete listing of priorities and programs.


  • Muslim communities in Europe
  • Women in post-conflict countries
  • Global pretrial detention (not United States)
  • Public health issues in Africa, including access to essential medicines, access to health care, palliative care
  • Climate change
  • Economic downturn in the United States, including the foreclosure crisis
  • Images that reframe mainstream media representations of African American men and boys
  • Detention of immigrants in the United States
  • Youth movements, especially political participation in voter registration, policy reform efforts, public education
  • Reconstruction and rebuilding in Haiti
  • Physical and mental disabilities in Eastern Europe or Central Asia, focusing on integration or inclusion
  • Political violence, especially in Latin America and Africa
  • Elections in Uganda and Nigeria



Who Can Apply

Any emerging or veteran photographer who has completed a body of work on a human rights or social justice issue may apply for Moving Walls. Work in progress may be submitted as long as a substantial portion of the work has been completed. We will accept any genre of photography that is documentary in nature and is not staged or manipulated. In addition, priority will be given to work that addresses issues and geographic regions of concern to the Open Society Foundations.

Seven portfolios will be selected based on the quality of the images, the project’s relevance to the Open Society Foundations, and the photographer’s ability to portray a social justice or human rights issue in a visually compelling, unique, and respectful way.

Moreover, Moving Walls values work by photographers who have a long-term investment in a community or issue. Photographers working in their home countries, women, emerging artists, and people of color are also encouraged to apply.

The Open Society Foundations does not discriminate based on any status that may be protected by applicable law.



Emerging Photographer Travel Grant

To support the professional advancement of photographers who have not received much exposure, an additional travel grant will be provided to select Moving Walls photographers to attend the opening in New York and meet with local photo editors and relevant NGO staff.

Recipients must apply for the travel grant after being chosen for inclusion in the Moving Walls exhibition. The grant is subject to the applicant obtaining the necessary visa to the travel to the U.S.

Recipients will be determined based on, among other things, prior international travel experience, prior attendance at workshops and seminars outside their home communities, publication and exhibition history, awards, and potential impact on their professional development.



Application Process:

Please go to http: // t o access our online application system. You will be asked to submit the following materials:

1) application cover page

2) a project statement* (600 words maximum) describing the project you would like to exhibit;

3) a short narrative bio (250 words maximum) summarizing your previous work and experience;

4) your curriculum vitae;

5) 15-20 jpg images

Optional materials:

6) Multimedia: Moving Walls has the capacity to exhibit multimedia in addition to (but not in place of) the print exhibition. A multimedia sample should be submitted only if it complements or enhances, rather than duplicates, the other submitted materials. The sample will be judged on its ability to present complex issues through compelling multimedia storytelling, and will not negatively impact the print submission. If you are submitting a multimedia piece for consideration, please post the piece on a free public site such as youtube and include a link. If the piece is longer than five minutes, let us know what start time to begin watching at.

*NOTE: The one-page statement is intended to give the Selection Committee a better understanding of the project. Non-native English speakers should describe their projects as accurately as possible, but do need not be concerned with the quality of their English.

Complete submissions must be received at the Open Society Institute-NY by 5pm (Eastern Standard Time) on Friday, April 1, 2011.



Review and Selection Process:

Phase 1: Applications will be reviewed and selections made by a committee of foundation staff and the exhibit curators, Susan Meiselas and Stuart Alexander. In evaluating the work, the committee considers the quality of the photographs and their relevance to the Open Society Foundations’ overall mission and activities. In addition, the committee aims to select a diversity of issues and geographic areas in order to avoid repetition of topics shown in recent exhibitions. To view images from our recent exhibitions, please visit:


We tend to receive between 150-200 submissions each round. For Moving Walls 19, we plan to select seven bodies of work.


Phase 2: The selected photographers will be designated wall space and encouraged to visit Open Society Foundations offices in New York in order to meet with our curators and prepare installation plans. Please note that travel to our NY office is not part of Moving Walls payment and is not a requirement. Photographers who are unable to travel to New York may correspond with our curators by e-mail or fax and submit their installation plans electronically.

While curators work closely with photographers to determine an installation plan, final curatorial decisions are at the discretion of the Moving Walls curators and selection committee.

During this time, the selected photographers will be invited to apply for the Emerging Photographer Travel Grant.



Time Frame:

Applications are due by 5pm E.S.T. on Friday, April 1, 2011. To participate, you must be available to follow the exhibition schedule detailed below. Moving Walls 19 is scheduled to open on November 30, 2011. The approximate duration of the exhibition in New York is nine months. After the New York exhibition closes, the Open Society Foundations will select (at its discretion) a portion of the exhibition to travel to its Washington, D.C. office for an additional nine months.

Please note that, in connection with prior Moving Walls exhibitions, certain photographers have been asked to participate in subsequent exhibitions in Baltimore, Maryland (in conjunction with the Open Society Foundations office located there) and in New York City (at the Columbia University School of Social Work and John Jay College of Criminal Justice). Should you be selected, the decision to participate would be entirely yours and a separate agreement would be executed.



Exhibition Schedule:

Participating photographers must be abl e to commit to the foll owing exhibition schedule:

  • April 1, 2011: Deadline for submissions.
  • Early June 2011: Notification of participants.
  • June-July 2011: Selected photographers meet with curators to plan their shows. Selected photographers invited to apply for the Emerging Photographer Travel Grant.
  • July 2011 Deadline for selected photographers to submit detailed budgets and installation plans.
  • August 2011 Deadline for submission of the following:

    - Artist’s statement, bio, captions, and other wall texts
    - High resolution jpeg files of each exhibition image foruse in exhibition-related printed materials and for inclusion on our website.
    - Recipients of the Emerging Photographer Travel Grants notified.
  • September 2011: Deadline for photographers to have their completed prints delivered to the framer. Photographers are responsible formaking these arrangements.
  • November 30: 2011 Opening reception




Upon selection, photographers must submit a budget application for printing, drymounting, and other production costs. Once the budget is approved, participants will be responsible for working within this budget and must use Open Society Foundations-approved labs. We will then pay for standard framing and window matting or back-mounting. In addition, selected photographers will receive a $2,000 royalty payment. When the exhibition tour is completed, photographers will receive the framed and matted work. The Open Society Foundations will cover the costs of returning work up to $750 for photographers based in the United States and $1250 internationally. Any shipping costs that exceed these amounts will be the responsibility of the photographer.

The Open Society Foundations will offer travel grants to emerging Moving Walls photographers to attend the opening in New York and meet with local photo editors and NGOs. Applying for this grant is optional. Recipients will be determined at our discretion.




By participating in the exhibit, you grant the Open Society Foundations a nonexclusive, irrevocable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, and worldwide license in perpetuity to reproduce, distribute, publish, make derivative works from, and publicly display the work for purposes relating to the Open Society Foundations Documentary Photography Project, including, but not limited to, the following formats:

  • Exhibition invitation
  • Exhibition wall texts
  • Exhibition catalog
  • Educational or promotional material for the exhibition
  • Open Society Foundations’ website or any successor or comparable medium of display


In addition, you grant to the Open Society Foundations a nonexclusive, irrevocable, fully paid-up, royalty-free, and worldwide license in perpetuity to reproduce and publicly display the work on our website, or any successor or comparable medium of display, solely for the Open Society Foundations non-commercial advocacy or educational purposes. In any and all uses, the Open Society Foundations shall provide a photographer’s credit and identify it as related to Moving Walls 19.



If you have any questions, please contact the Documentary Photography Project at

(212) 547-6909.




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