Supporting Photographers, Moving Walls

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On Wednesday, the Open Society Foundations will mark their 20th group exhibition of “Moving Walls” at their new location in midtown Manhattan. Initially conceived 15 years ago as a way to highlight the foundation’s issues and to support documentary photography, the exhibition highlights and adds value to important (and often under-reported) social issues.

At launch, the Foundations’ goals were focused on Eastern Europe and Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now, the Moving Walls exhibition encompasses work from around the globe. This year, the exhibition features the work of 5 photographers from China, Russia and Ukraine to Sierra Leone and the countries of the Arab Spring.

On Revolution Road,” a project by TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev, features work from the uprisings and unrest in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. Shot on assignment for TIME, Kozyrev’s work demonstrates both the collective nature of world politics as well as the individual characteristics inherent to each nation’s unique issues. “In the end, the differences between the aftermaths of the region’s revolutions may be more important than their similarities,” he said.

Katharina Hesse‘s project, “Borderland: North Korean Refugees,” tells the individual narratives of North Korean refugees along the Chinese border. Because they’re classified by the Chinese government as ‘economic migrants’, the refugees are ineligible for official UN refugee status. “After experiencing a world like this, it just didn’t feel ‘right’ to take pictures and move on to the next job,” Hesse wrote. She has been shooting the project for nine years.

Juveniles Waiting for Justice” is a project by Fernando Moleres shot in the Pademba Road prison in Freetown, Sierra Leone. There, some 1,300 prisoners languished in squalor, lacking proper hygiene and provisions while awaiting trial. “My Sierra Leone prison photography has been published in the European press,” Moleres said, “but I feel that the story has not exposed a broad audience to this tragedy.”

Ian Teh‘s project, “Traces: Landscapes in Transition on the Yellow River Basin,” explores the existential impact the Yellow River has on the more than 150 million people it directly sustains. “My photographs play with the tension between the Yellow River’s place in Chinese culture and history and China’s emergence as a major economic power,” he said. “By using the landscape, I attempt to show what happens when an area that was largely rural becomes increasingly urban and industrial.”

VII photographer Donald Weber‘s “Interrogations” takes a surreal view on the Russian judicial system. Photographing people inside police interrogation rooms, Weber captures “a place where justice and mercy and hope and despair are manufactured, bought, bartered and sold.” Says Weber: “With each image, I was looking to make a very simple photograph of an actual police interrogation, but also a complex portrait of the relationship between truth and power.”

Moving Walls in on view at the Open Society Foundations at 224 West 57th Street, New York City, from May 8 – December 13, 2013.

Ras Lanuf, Libya, March 11, 2011. Anti-Qaddafi rebels flee under fire from the Libyan army.Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME
Cairo, Egypt, February 1, 2011. A demonstrator is lifted as a rally marches in Tahrir Square calling for the end of the Mubarak regime.Yuri Kozyrev—NOOR for TIME
Image: Inside the interrogation room
A suspect contemplates sharing information with police in an interrogation room, Ukraine, March 2011.Donald Weber—VII
Image: Inside the interrogation room
Inside the interrogation room.Donald Weber—VII
Banks of the Yellow River. Hejin, Shanxi, China, 2011. A couple sits by the banks of the only remaining undeveloped section of the Yellow River on the outskirts of the small city of Hejin. Although China has roughly the same amount of water as the United States, its population is nearly five times greater, making water a precious and increasingly sought-after resource. The heavily industrialized area around Hejin contains some of the most polluted waters in the river. In 2007, after surveying the river, the Yellow River Conservancy Commission stated that one third of the river system had pollution levels that made the water unfit for drinking, aquaculture, industrial use, or even agriculture. Ian Teh—Panos
Cityscape. Lanzhou, Gansu, China, 2011. The expansive cityscape of Lanzhou cloaked in a polluted haze. Since 1949, the city, once a former Silk Road trading post, has morphed from the capital of a poverty-stricken province into the heart of a major industrial area. It is the center of the country’s petrochemical industry and is a key regional transport hub between eastern and western China. Among the country’s 660 cities, more than 400 lack sufficient water, while over 100 suffer from severe shortages. Lanzhou is the largest and first city on the Yellow River but is often better known for its massive discharge of industrial and human waste. According to recent reports by the Chinese government and international NGOs like the Blacksmith Institute, Lanzhou is China’s most polluted city and one of the 30 most polluted cities in the world.Ian Teh—Panos
Northern China, October 2003. Kim Jeong-Ya (a pseudonym), 67, who lives near the North Korean border in Yanji, China, belongs to a handful of Chinese activists who have dedicated their lives to helping North Koreans make a safe passage from North Korea to South Korea via mainland China. Most foreign activists are simply expelled from China if caught participating in assistance missions, whereas, local Chinese and some South Koreans have faced severe punishment. Kim has been imprisoned twice and beaten up by North Korean agents operating in China. Kim’s relatives, who did the same kind of support work “disappeared” in North Korea. Since her release from jail, Kim has been under intense police surveillance. Her meager life savings was confiscated by local authorities, and she is not allowed to leave her home in the suburbs of Yanji. Katharina Hesse
Seoul, Korea, November 2008. Park Lee Hwan (a pseudonym), 67, stands in the hallway of a building that houses North Korean refugees living in Seoul. It took her five years to travel clandestinely from China to South Korea. Initially, Park was planning to visit her relatives in China and do temporary work, but her relatives convinced her not to return to North Korea. Park made her way to Beijing, where she presented herself at the South Korean Embassy. Embassy staff sent her to a third country, the Philippines, and then she went to Seoul. Park’s four daughters, who remain in North Korea, do not know that their mother has left China and now lives in Seoul. Park says South Korea is “paradise” compared to North Korea.Katharina Hesse
Juvenile in African prison. Pademba central prison freetown, Sie
Every morning dozens of prisoners are taken to court for trial. Many of them will need to go to court multiple times before the judge reaches a final verdict, and as a result they are often kept in prison for years before they are ever sentenced.Fernando Moleres—Panos
Minors in Prisons part 1. Pademba Central Prison , Sierra Leona.
Ibrahim Sesay being interrogated by prisoners for the disappearance of a pair of slippers.Fernando Moleres—Panos

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