Photograph: The Student Focus competition shortlistees and their tutors gathered at the World Photography Organisation’s Student Focus Day at Somerset House
The Sony World Photography Awards
The ‘Sony World Photography Awards’ is the world’s biggest and best known photography competition. Organised each year by The World Photography Organisation (WPO), the competition consists of five different entry strands of which the Student Focus contest forms a key part.
Arranged as part of the WPO’s global education programme, the Student Focus contest provides an international platform to support, connect and develop the careers of talented photographers-in-training.
In April 2015, the Crick Centre teamed up with the WPO, launching an additional competition for the Student Focus shortlistees. The prize is a two-year photographic residency at the Crick Centre.
In his classic book ‘In Defence of Politics’ Bernard Crick highlighted that ‘Democracy is perhaps the most promiscuous word in the world of public affairs… She is everybody’s mistress and yet somehow retains her magic even when a lover sees that her favours are being, in his light, illicitly shared by many another’. Fifty years later, some have questioned whether democracy ‘retains her magic’, with traditional forms of political engagement, such as voting and joining a political party, showing serious signs of decline in the UK and beyond.
At the Crick Centre we believe that healthy democracy is about much more than the ballot box. We take a more inclusive and creative approach to researching politics that embraces non-traditional forms of political engagement, such as on-line campaigns, volunteering, ‘buy-cotting’ certain products and brands, arts and culture festivals, the creation of local co-operatives, etc.
It is here that the idea of ‘everyday politics’ comes into play. “Everyday politics” means much more than voting and party politics: it is about how our everyday actions forge social connections, dialogue and mutual understanding which, in turn, shape us as citizens.
Taking the idea of ‘everyday politics’ as a cue, we asked the Student Focus shortlistees – drawn from as far and wide as Argentina, China and the USA – to each prepare a portfolio entry of 6-10 original and inspired photographs. The participants had until Friday 21st August 2015 to submit their entries, which were judged by a panel of influential actors in politics and photography:
Krishna Sheth, Photography Director for Illustrated London News Ltd
Steve Richards, Political Commentator for The Independent
Matthew Flinders, Director of the Crick Centre
The winning photographer (still to be announced) will be offered a two-year residency and will be invited to make a regular contribution to the life and research of the Crick Centre. S/he will work closely with the Head of the Politics, Art and Expression Research strand to develop and respond to projects that touch on core themes of our work.
Photograph: Dr Holly Eva Ryan, Head of Politics, Art and Expression at the Crick Centre delivers the competition brief to students at Somerset House on 24th April 2015.
Exhibition at Parliament
Between 14-18 September 2015, a selection of the best entries from the competition are on display in the Upper Waiting Hall, a busy thoroughfare for Members of Parliament and the public on their way to meetings in the Committee Room Corridor. The exhibition itself is conceived as a democratic exercise, bringing representative practices of “everyday politics” from across the globe into the halls of national power in the UK.
Dr Holly Eva Ryan is Postdoctoral Research Associate in Politics, Art and Expression at the Crick Centre.