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Magnum at 75

Magnum is staging a series of global events through 2022 around the theme of 'In Dialogue', centered around its Annual General Meeting in New York City later this month

Magnum photographers take a break during their AGM, New York City, 1989 © Elliott Erwitt/Magnum Photos.

Seventy-five years since it was initiated by founder photographer members Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, George Rodger and David ‘Chim’ Seymour, Magnum Photos is staging an ambitious anniversary program in the city where it all started – New York.

Embracing the theme of In Dialogue, the program encompasses talks, performances, workshops, book signings, an exhibition, and more, including a keynote panel discussion, Seeing Ukraine at New York Public Library, and a cinema night at FIAF’s Florence Gould Hall, just a few blocks away from the Museum of Modern Art, where – legend has it – Capa toasted the inauguration of the agency over a champagne lunch.

“Our 75th anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the collective’s legacy of capturing moments in history of global significance – a legacy we are committed to continuing,” says Olivia Arthur, President of Magnum Photos. “We will stand true to our vision and values as we adapt to the world around us, and we’re looking forward to a special calendar of events that we hope will bring us closer to the photographic community and the wider world through conversation and dialogue.”

Group picture of the photographers present at the 74th AGM of Magnum Photos, in front of the new office and gallery space, 68 Rue Leon Frot in Paris, September 2021 © Olivia Arthur/Magnum Photos.

From its beginnings in 1947, founded in the aftermath of World War II and the beginnings of a new era, Magnum has embraced a diverse array of individual points of view to express a unique vision of the world. Three-quarters of a century on, and in the midst of a new epoch in global events, that distinctive combination of factual reporting with unique artistry continues to distinguish the Magnum collective to this day.

To mark its 75th anniversary year and in line with its continued commitment to chronicling events, people, places and cultures across the world, Magnum Photos is running a series of global events through 2022 around the In Dialogue theme. And now, having begun celebrations and discussion with a series of talk events at Photo London and retrospectives of Susan Meiselas and Bieke Depoorter at C/O Berlin (ongoing until September 9th), the program shifts up a gear with a packed program that bookends the agency’s annual general meeting in New York City in late June.

“We hope lots of people will join us in conversation at these different events around the world,” says Caitlin Hughes, CEO of Magnum Photos. “Our 75th anniversary is the stage for critical conversation about the world we live in, the changing role of documentary photography, and the future we shape with contributions to arts and culture.”

Due to airstrikes alarms, citizens of Lviv have been forced to hide in the improvised bomb shelters and various public institutions. Churches and monuments have been secured from potential bombing. (...)

"Can photographs today still serve as credible witnesses to war?"

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A bomb shelter located in the underground sauna of the Lviv Regional Children's Specialized Hospital. Lviv, 13 March 2022 © Rafal Milach/Magnum Photos.

Seeing Ukraine
One of the center pieces to those events is the Seeing Ukraine panel at the New York Public Library, which takes place on the evening of June 24, and comprises three Magnum members; Susan Meiselas, who will deliver the opening remarks, together with Alex Majoli and Rafał Milach, who will discuss their experiences on the ground and compare it to other conflicts that they have covered. 

Alongside them will be Fred Ritchin, Dean Emeritus of the International Center of Photography and a thought leader on the subject of photography’s role and transformation within digital culture, and Ira Lupu, a Ukraine-born photographer and curator. Together, the two curated the recent exhibition, In Ukraine, consisting of photographs, videos, paintings, books, and news clippings made primarily by Ukrainian artists and documentarians.

They will discuss the crucial need for a larger understanding of Ukraine and its people through art and culture, not only through the lens of war. The panel will consider two key questions: ‘In what ways do images made by Ukrainian and foreign photographers help others to gain a better understanding of the country and its people?’; And, ‘Can photographs today still serve as credible witnesses to war and its horrors as they did in the twentieth century?’

Visit here for full details on how to register to attend for free in-person or via livestream.

Cattle auction, lturas, California, 2016 © Matt Black/Magnum Photos.

Cinema Night
Magnum Photographers and the Moving Image, takes place on the following night, Saturday, June 25, at the French Institute Alliance Française’s Florence Gould Hall on East 59th Street.

Billed as “a 90-minute cinematic program exploring the past, present, and future potential of photography and the moving image,” the program includes a selection of short films from photographers such as Jonas Bendiksen, Matt Black, Chien-Chi Chang, Phillip Jones Griffiths, Sohrab Hura, and Newsha Tavakolian, curated by multimedia producer Adrian Kelterborn, the former director of Magnum in Motion.

Advance tickets can be bought here.

One pound of pictures. Saint Paul, Minnesota, 2021 © Alec Soth/Magnum Photos.

Book Fair
The New York events begin on Saturday June 18 at the International Center of Photography’s new home on the Lower East Side with a series of free back-to-back book signings, talks and conversations with photographers and authors about a range of published projects, including new photobooks and ground-breaking classics.

Alec Soth will share images from his latest books, Pound of Pictures and Gathered Leaves Annotated, and after he will be in dialogue with Sabiha Çimen about the making of her book, Hafiz, an intimate look at girls attending Turkey’s Quran schools. Carole Naggar will present her new biography, Searching for the Light: David ‘Chim’ Seymour, 1911-1956, who she describes as “the first human rights photographer”, sharing her new discoveries from the archive of the Magnum founder.

Carnival Strippers Revisited and Making Of. 2022, by Susan Meiselas, published by Steidl.

Jim Goldberg will reveal insights into his innovative book practices, discussing Darrell and Patricia, and Fingerprint, the now sold-out collection of never-before-seen Polaroids from the period of the making of his magnum opus, Raised By Wolves. Susan Meiselas will talk about the process and thinking behind Carnival Strippers Revisited, the new, expanded edition of her 1976 classic. And photographer and sometime editor and publisher, Depoorter, will talk with Lindokuhle Sobekwa about the collaboration that produced Daleside.

Further highlights include: a talk by Lua Ribeira, who will reveal some of the collaborative process behind Noises, her book on dance hall culture in the UK: Khalik Allah on his Harlem portraits in Souls Against the Concrete; Enri Canaj on how his own immigration experience shaped his long-form project, Say Goodbye Before You Leave; Yael Martínez on the personal story behind La Casa de Sangra; Marco Bischof on revisiting his father’s most notable and unseen work; and Peter van Agtmael on Sorry About the War.

From 'Fingerprint' © Jim Goldberg/Magnum Photos.

"It’s a chance to hear and share fresh ideas about making books, working with subjects, and bringing photo projects to life."

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Carla, La Sabana, Acapulco, Mexico, 2017 © Yael Martinez/Magnum Photos.

Çimen is also taking part in a salon organized by Magnum Foundation and 10×10 Photobooks on the evening of June 21st. She will discuss Hafiz alongside her Magnum colleague, Bieke Depoorter, who will be talking about her book, Agata, self-published under the imprint of Des Palais. Visit here for further details and to RSVP.

On the same evening, Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb will be in conversation with Darius Himes, International Head of Photographs at Christie’s, about their recent book, Waves, published by Radius. The free talk at Foley Gallery will be followed by a Q&A and book signing. Follow the link here for signup details.

Cover of 'Agata' by Bieke Depoorter.

“At the center of all this activity is the ICP library,” says Holly Hughes, who is curating the program. “The photo community is invited to gather, meet, hear Magnum photographers’ conversations and talks, ask questions. It’s a chance to hear and share fresh ideas about making books, working with subjects, and bringing photo projects to life.”

A wide selection of books by Magnum photographers will be available for purchase at the signings and throughout the day. Entry is free, but space is limited. To reserve your place, visit and register here. Proof of Covid vaccination and masks are required for entry into ICP for all events and exhibitions.

A mannequin on a scooter, Taichung, Taiwan. 2000 © Chien-Chi Chang/Magnum Photos. © | Magnum Photos

"Still images can be moving and moving images can be still. Both meet within soundscape."

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Mennonites. Capulín, Chihuahua, Mexico. 1996 © Larry Towell/Magnum Photos. © | Magnum Photos

Workshops
That same weekend, June 18–19, Magnum will stage two intensive workshops aimed at all levels, from passionate amateurs to working professionals.

The first is led by Chien-Chi Chang, a Magnum member for more than 20 years, best known for his long-term documentary projects such as The Chain, shot in his native Taiwan, and his work following North Korean defectors escaping into China. The other is a one-day class with Larry Towell, another long-standing member of the agency, and the author of 14 books, including No Man’s Land, The Mennonites, and his most recent, Afghanistan, published by Aperture.

Chang’s two-day workshop on documentary photography and visual storytelling titled, ‘Let Photography be Your Language’, will cover topics including sequencing, and how to get your work published. “Still images can be moving and moving images can be still. Both meet within soundscape,” says Chang, describing his approach.

The workshop begins with Chang presenting an in-depth presentation of his work and processes, and an insight into his successes and his mistakes. There will be a specific module on research, “the foundations of good storytelling”, and a lesson on “the art of editing”, together with group portfolio reviews, a short assignment, practical exercises, and a 50-page workbook.

Towell’s one-day workshop offers a rare opportunity to learn about the ins-and-outs of producing and distributing documentary photography from one of its masters. He will give detailed insight into his own practices, commenting: “If there’s one theme that connects all my work, I think it’s that of landlessness; how land makes people into who they are and what happens to them when they lose it and thus lose their identities.” Much of the rest of the workshop centers around group portfolio reviews.

Both take place at Mana Contemporary in Jersey City, supported by the Monira Foundation. Visit here for further information and booking for Chang’s workshop. And here for Towell’s.

Donald Trump speaking at a rally, Montoursville, Pennsylvania. May 20, 2019 © Peter Van Agtmael/Magnum Photos.

Exhibition
Finally, Look at the USA, Peter van Agtmael’s exhibition at Bronx Documentary Center is in its last weeks (it ends June 27). A total of 128  photographs span the period 2006-2021, focusing on the fault lines of the post-9/11 US, at home and abroad, examining the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their domestic consequences–wounded soldiers and the families of the fallen.

Further details here.

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