Abir Abdullah, Sara Naomi Lewkowicz Win Alexia Foundation Grants

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MARCH 01, 2013 by David Walker

Workers line up unclaimed bodies of victims of on accidental fire in a mass funeral at a grave at Jurain in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Abir Abdullah of Bangladesh has won the $15,000 professional award in the Alexia Foundation grant competition, organizers announced this morning. Sara Naomi Lewkowicz won the Alexia Foundation Student Grant, which includes a full-tuition scholarship to study photojournalism at the Syracuse University London Program in Fall, 2013, plus a $1,000 grant. Abdullah submitted a proposal to document the continuous threat of fire in the working class communities of Dhaka, Bangladesh in basti (slums), garment factories and shopping malls. The fires, which are a consequence of poor safety regulation and official corruption, have killed hundreds of people–particularly garment workers–in recent months. Abdullah teaches part time at the Pathshala South Asian Media Institute, and works as a stringer in Bangladesh for European Photo Agency, according to the Alexia Foundation web site. Abdullah’s winning application was among 443 submitted for this year’s professional grant.

There were five other finalists:  freelance photographer Christian Werner based in Nordstemmen, Germany; Robin Hammond, a freelance photojournalist based in Paris; Noriko Hayashi, a freelance photographer based in Tokyo; Alvaro Ybarra Zavala, 31, a Getty photographer based in Spain; and Jenn Ackerman, a freelance photographer based in Minneapolis.
Lewkowicz, a photojournalism graduate student at Ohio University, won the student grant to continue work on her project about domestic abuse, called “Shane and Maggie.” The project has received widespread attention in recent days because of a series of graphic images of a domestic violence incident Lewkowicz captured while documenting the couple. Dijana MuMinovic, who is also a photojournalism graduate student at Ohio University, was the second place winner in the student competition, which had 121 applications this year. “The overall quality of the student and professional entries was extremely high both in the photography and in the seriousness of the proposals,? juror Jim Dooley said in a statement issued by the Alexia Foundation.
The mission of the Alexia Foundation is to promote photojournalism through scholarships and grants to bring attention to social injustice and to promote cross-cultural understanding. The foundation was established by the family of Alexia Tsairis, a Syracuse University student who died in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Abir Abdullah is a student of the 1st batch at Pathshala, South Asian Media institute. He is a former vice principal of Pathshala and has served in the World Press Photo jury. He was one of the founders of DrikNews.

Author: Shahidul Alam

Time Magazine Person of the Year 2018. A photographer, writer, curator and activist, Shahidul Alam obtained a PhD in chemistry before switching to photography. His seminal work “The Struggle for Democracy” contributed to the removal of General Ershad. Former president of the Bangladesh Photographic Society, Alam set up the Drik agency, Chobi Mela festival and Pathshala, South Asian Media Institute, considered one of the finest schools of photography in the world. Shown in MOMA New York, Centre Georges Pompidou, Royal Albert Hall and Tate Modern, Alam has been guest curator of Whitechapel Gallery, Winterthur Gallery and Musee de Quai Branly. His awards include Mother Jones, Shilpakala Award and Lifetime Achievement Award at the Dali International Festival of Photography. Speaker at Harvard, Stanford, UCLA, Oxford and Cambridge universities, TEDx, POPTech and National Geographic, Alam chaired the international jury of the prestigious World Press Photo contest. Honorary Fellow of Royal Photographic Society, Alam is visiting professor of Sunderland University in UK and advisory board member of National Geographic Society. John Morris, the former picture editor of Life Magazine describes his book “My journey as a witness”, (listed in “Best Photo Books of 2011” by American Photo), as “The most important book ever written by a photographer.”

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