Call for Proposals:Moving Walls 20 Photography Exhibition


The Open Society Foundations invite photographers to submit a body of work for consideration in the Moving Walls 20 group exhibition, scheduled to open in New York in early 2013. The Moving Walls exhibition series showcases documentary photography that highlights human rights and social issues that coincide with the Open Society Foundations’ mission. Moving Walls is exhibited at our offices in New York and Washington, D.C. Launched in 1998, Moving Walls has featured over 175 photographers.

Over the past 14 years, we have been proud to support the brave and difficult (and often self-funded) work that photographers undertake globally in their visual documentation of complex social and political issues. Their images provide the world with evidence of human rights abuses, 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. Moving Walls honors this work while visually highlighting the Open Society Foundations’ mission to staff and visitors.

For participating photographers, a key benefit of the program is to gain exposure for their projects, as well as the social justice or human rights issues they address. In addition to a $2500 honorarium, photographers receive their professionally-produced exhibitions at the end of the exhibition tour in NY and Washington, D.C. With this next competition, Moving Walls will celebrate its 20th exhibition cycle. Moving Walls 20 will also be the inaugural exhibition in the Open Society Foundations’ new headquarters on West 57th Street in New York. We intend to showcase three to five discrete bodies of work.

Areas of Interest

Each Moving Walls exhibit highlights 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, and special consideration is given to long-term work produced over years of commitment to an issue or community. Work in progress may be submitted as long as a substantial portion of the work has been completed.

Listed below are some focus areas for the Open Society Foundations, and examples of specific topics 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 review our website for a listing of priorities and programs.


  • Pretrial      detention
  • Detention      of immigrants

Public Health

  • Public      health issues in Africa, including access to essential medicines, access      to health care, palliative care
  • Physical      and mental disabilities in Eastern Europe or Central Asia, focusing on      integration or inclusion


  • Migration      in Europe, especially Italy
  • Migration      through Central America

Political Turmoil and Change

  • Political      violence, especially in Latin America and Africa
  • Political      unrest in Nigeria
  • Democratic      process in the Middle East
  • Creation      of South Sudan

Economic and Racial Justice

  • Economic      downturn in the United States
  • Images      that reframe mainstream media representations of African American men and      boys


  • Women      in post-conflict countries


  • Youth  movements, especially political participation in voter registration,      policy reform efforts, public education, especially in Eastern Europe

Climate Change

  • The human costs of climate change

Who Can Apply

Any emerging or veteran photographer who is working long-term to document a human rights or social justice issue may apply for Moving Walls.

Photographers working in their home countries, women, emerging artists, and people of color are strongly encouraged to apply.

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

Selection Criteria

We will accept any genre of photography that is documentary in nature and is not staged or manipulated. Priority will be given to work that addresses issues and geographic regions of concern to the Open Society Foundations.

In 2012, three to five portfolios will be selected based on:

  • quality of the      images
  • relevance to      the Open Society Foundations
  • photographer’s      ability to portray a social justice or human rights issue in a visually      compelling, unique, and respectful way
  • photographer’s      long-term commitment to the issue

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 selected for the Moving Walls exhibition. The grant is subject to the applicant obtaining the necessary visa to travel to the United States.

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

Photographers must apply online at

You will be asked to complete or upload the following:

1)  project summary (50 words maximum)

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

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

4) summary of your engagement with the story or issue (600 words maximum). Please respond to the following questions:

  • What is your relationship with the issue or community you photographed?
  • How and why did you begin the project?
  • How long have you been working on the project?
  • Are there particular methods you use while working?
  • What do you hope a viewer will take away from your project?

5)   your curriculum vitae

6)   15-20 jpg images  [up to 5mb per image], with corresponding captions

Optional Materials

7)   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. To submit a multimedia piece for consideration, please post the piece on a free public site such as YouTube or Vimeo 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 via the online application system by 5pm (Eastern Standard Time) on Monday, April 30, 2012.

Please do not wait until immediately prior to the deadline to submit work. Due to intake of a high volume of large files, we occasionally experience technical difficulties in the days leading up to the deadline. Please help us to avoid this by submitting early.

Review and Selection Process

Phase 1:  The entire body of 200-400 submissions are reviewed by Documentary Photography Project staff, who create a shortlist of applicants.

Phase 2:  Shortlisted applications are reviewed and selected by a committee of foundation staff with expertise in various program areas, and by curators Susan Meiselas and Stuart Alexander. In evaluating the work, we consider the quality of the photographs and their relevance to the Open Society Foundations’ overall mission and activities. The committee also aims to select a diversity of issues and geographic areas in order to avoid repetition of topics shown in recent exhibitions. Past exhibitions can be viewed at:

For Moving Walls 20, we plan to select three to five bodies of work.

Phase 3:  Selected photographers will be designated wall space and encouraged to visit our office in New York to meet with our curators and prepare installation plans. Travel to our New York office for curatorial meetings 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 email and skype 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.

Contact Information

If you have any questions, please contact the Documentary Photography Project at (212) 547-6909 or



Posted on March 21, 2012, in Career, Competitions, Entrepreneurship, Gender, Women, Girls, Opportunities and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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