We live in a period characterised by rises in regionalism, nationalism and authoritarianism; a time of great global uncertainty and anxiety, as well as inequality and iniquity which both reflects and drives political divide, and undermines international systems of cooperation. Clashes of identities, beliefs and ideologies contribute to a feeling that humanity is spiralling out of control; that our relationships with each other, as well as with the earth and environment, have never been worse.
Yet, as humans, we are not conditioned by fear alone, but instead by a remarkable ingenuity, and a capacity for hope, self-reflection, activism and action. This agency to improve our own lives, and those of others, is the theme of this year’s IAFOR Documentary Photography Award, inviting us to consider the ways in which we contextualise and process the past, reimagining ourselves, our relationships, and our environments; driving positive change and reclaiming the future as a time we look towards with hope, and even optimism.
We hope that the broad nature of this theme will encourage photographers to submit work that addresses these perspectives, and others that connect and arise.