A jury composed of leading figures in the world of photography announced the two winners of the second 6Mois Photojournalism Award: Fabiola Ferrero and Seif Kousmate.

Mixed media - Hassan (right) and Abderrahman are brothers from the oasis of Tighmert. After the death of their father in 2013, Hassan left school and took on the responsibility of the family. Abderrahman the younger brother dreams of leaving the oasis to join his two older brothers abroad. He sees his future elsewhere and considers that the land of the oasis does not pay for the efforts one puts into it. September 2020 Tighmert, Morocco © Seif Kousmate

The 6Mois Photojournalism Award was created in 2020 thanks to synergy between Tancrède Besnard, patron of the arts, who wanted to support photography and photographers, and Léna Mauger, editor-in-chief of the magazines XXI and 6Mois, who wanted to produce photographic series. “From being editors, our usual role at the 6Mois magazine, we have become producers of stories,” says Léna Mauger. This award is open to all photographers, with no limit of age, nationality, or place of residence. It aims to support “photographers who love telling stories through images.” The 10,000 euro grant allows the award winners to develop an ongoing project. The 2020 prize went to Italian Marco Zorzanello for his series on climate tourism. This year, the jury, composed of figures in the world of photography (including Gilles Favier, Director of the ImageSingulières festival or Lars Lindemann, Director of Photography at Geo), brought together by director of photography at 6Mois, Martina Bacigalupo, have selected Fabiola Ferrero and Seif Kousmate. The two photographers offer insiders’ stories of their respective communities in Venezuela and Morocco, and, as Léna Mauger puts it, “are experimenting with new ways of writing.”

Mixed media - portrait of Mustapha responsible for water distribution in the oasis. January 2021 Tighmert, Morocco  © Seif Kousmate

The guardian of those who have left

My grandmother's bed, in our beach house, with wasps on it. When I entered the house, it was so full of wasps that I had to sleep outside on a hammock. The house is falling apart. February 2020 © Fabiola Ferrero

Trained as a journalist, the photographer Fabiola Ferrero was born in Caracas in 1991. In her series “I can’t hear the birds,” she combines photographs of Venezuelan families with local and national news. To tell the story of the fall of Venezuela, where, out of 28 million inhabitants, over 5 million have been forced into exile, she has adopted an intimate approach. Léna Mauger tells us that Ferrero is “the guardian of those who have left; she goes around locking the houses of those who are leaving, covering their beds, sofas, armchairs with sheets.” Ferrero, who watched her parents, brothers, and closest friends leave, decided to stay and document the country that is being deserted. She notes: “It is important to continue to document the impact of our crisis right now, because even though it is no longer in the headlines, the collapse continues, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the daily struggles of the citizens.”

The disappearance of oases

Landscape of the Akka oasis. February 2021 Akka, Morocco © Seif Kousmate

Founder of Koz, a collective of four Moroccan visual artists who seek to tell photographic stories in hybrid formats, Seif Kousmate reflects on climate change in his project Waha. Born in 1988 in Essaouira, he recounts the disappearance of Moroccan oases, two-thirds of which have been wiped off the map in recent decades as a result of environmental changes. “I was careful not to reproduce orientalist representations of oases, so that my work would more accurately convey the reality of the destruction I have observed,” writes Kousmate. “I have tried to experiment with new ways of embedding external, organic elements (such as dates, dead palm leaves, soil...) in my photographs — elements that are intimately connected to the sites I have chosen to photograph. I have also used acid and fire as symbols of destruction, to create a feedback loop between the present reality and the oncoming process of degradation.”

 

By Sabyl Ghoussoub

Born in Paris in 1988 into a Lebanese family, Sabyl Ghoussoub is a writer, columnist and curator. His second novel, Beyrouth entre parenthèses [Beirut in Parentheses] was released by Antilope editions in August 2020.

 

A cow is seen in the bushes in Portuguesa, Venezuela. Portuguesa was once the country's breadbasket. September 2019 © Fabiola Ferrero
A man is seen in Lake Maracaibo, which was once a symbol of Venezuela's prosperity and is now suffering from a two-decade-long oil spill. January 2018 © Fabiola Ferrero

 

Read more: Tommaso Protti: The dark side of the Amazon

 

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