What's on at Visa pour l'Image 2020: a year with a difference

A Visa pour l'Image exhibition venue in Perpignan, France.
Visa pour l'Image will take place in the medieval city of Perpignan, France with 20 physical exhibitions designed to accommodate Covid-19 safety measures. The rest of the programme will be available to view online.

The Visa pour l'Image international festival of photojournalism will return for the 32nd time this year – but in a different format. Social distancing measures mean that some exhibitions will take place as usual in Perpignan, France, from 29 August to 13 September 2020, while others, as well as talks, awards, portfolio reviews, screenings and presentations, will be held virtually.

Combining physical exhibitions in the medieval city of Perpignan with innovative virtual screenings and events will create an engaging experience and open up access to an even larger online community – not least because, for the first time, registration is free this year. Whether you're visiting in person, online, or both, you'll be able to celebrate the best in the industry. Professional Week, from 31 August to 5 September, will feature the usual packed programme of events – simply online.

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Despite the restrictions, organisers are confident the spirit and quality of the festival will be retained. Exhibitions and talks will cover a range of topics including environmental and conservation issues, the Covid-19 pandemic and more.

In Perpignan, 20 physical exhibitions will be held at venues including the Couvent des Minimes and the Eglise des Dominicains, where safety and social distancing measures have been put in place.

Visitors will be able to access all content, including virtual panels with Q&As, exhibits and more, by registering online for free through Canon's Visa event page. The Canon Digital Lounge will guide you to all of the available content each day, so even if you don't go to Perpignan this year, you'll have the festival at your fingertips.

Here are the top things not to miss at Visa pour l'Image 2020.

Six siblings pose for a portrait against a bare wall in a sparsely-furnished room. Photo by Anush Babajanyan
A family in the troubled Nagorno-Karabakh region of the South Caucasus, photographed by 2019 Canon Female Photojournalist Award winner Anush Babajanyan. © Anush Babajanyan
Canon Female Photojournalist Grant recipients Anush Babajanyan and Laura Morton at Visa 2019.

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1. Canon Student Development Programme

The Canon Student Development Programme is dedicated to students, educators and all those who want to pursue a career in photography. 2020 will mark the first-ever digital edition of the programme and more than 220 students from Europe, the Middle East and Africa will participate. The initiative aims to help the photojournalists of the future develop their skills and advance their careers by introducing them to some of the top professionals in the industry.

Students will be introduced online to Canon Ambassadors and experienced and influential photographers and editors who will act as mentors and help them prepare their portfolios during one-on-one digital meetings.

During Professional Week, students will participate in workshops and screenings, as well as the group portfolio reviews that all Visa visitors will be able to view online. Lecture modules will be provided online by mentors in the form of dedicated webinars. Students in the programme will also have free access to all Visa content online, including virtual galleries and webcasts with photographers.

There are 32 professional photographers and photo editors reviewing portfolios this year, including Tasneem Alsultan, Anush Babajanyan, Patrick Baz, Guia Besana, Sabiha Çimen, Bieke Depoorter, Daniel Etter, Ulla Lohmann, Catalina Martin-Chico, Maciek Nabrdalik, Ilvy Njiokiktjien and Ivor Prickett. Students have been invited to share their preferences for the reviewer they would like to work with.

Similarly, there are 24 reviewers for the September sessions, including Thomas Borberg, Jérôme Sessini, Muhammed Muheisen, Magdalena Herrera, Magnus Wennman and Aïda Muluneh.

Participating students will each have images chosen from their portfolios for a limited-edition book that will be published in December.

2. Talks from industry leaders

As part of the Canon Student Development Programme – and also available to all registered attendees – there will be a series of lectures by renowned photojournalists. The first lecture on 2 September will be given by photographer and former Guggenheim Fellow Jason Eskenazi, on the subject of 'Revisiting the Americans' – a nod to Robert Frank’s work The Americans, which Jason formed a personal connection with during his time as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Further talks are planned by various Canon Ambassadors and big names such as legendary photojournalist Sebastião Salgado. Visa pour l'Image founder Jean-François Leroy will also deliver a talk, as will Gaia Tripoli of The New York Times, Thomas Borberg of Politiken, writer and curator Ekow Eshun, photographer, director and Curator of the Addis Photo Fest Aïda Muluneh, and many others.

Away from the Student Development Programme, a panel discussion will bring together leading voices to discuss the unique challenges faced by Black photojournalists, and the work being done to help overcome these difficulties.

A man climbs a tall palm tree in a lush rainforest.
This picture from Victor Moriyama's Amazon Deforestation exhibition shows a person climbing an açaí palm in forested Combu Island, Belém, Brazil. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM lens at 24mm, 1/200 sec, f/6.3 and ISO800. © Victor Moriyama for The New York Times

3. 2020 Canon Female Photojournalist Grant

For the 20th consecutive year, Canon and Visa pour l'Image will be presenting the prestigious Canon Female Photojournalist Grant. The €8,000 grant is awarded to "an outstanding photographer in recognition of her contribution to photojournalism", in order to help her complete or make a new project for exhibition at the festival the following year.

The winner of this year's grant is Turkish photographer Sabiha Çimen for her project Hafiz: Guardians of the Qur'an. Muslims who completely memorise the Qur'an are allowed to use the title 'Hafız' before their names. Sabiha's project will highlight this 1,500-year-old tradition, focusing on the 8 to 17-year-old girls who attend the Qur'an schools to recite and memorise the 6,236 verses of the holy book of Islam so they can become Hafizas.

"l attended a Qur'an school with my twin sister when we were 12," says Sabiha. "With this project I am able to reveal a world unknown and hidden to many, and allow others to see Muslim women in a very unusual and nuanced way."

This year's panel of judges was made up of these talented women in the industry:
  • Monica Allende, Curator and Artistic Director of Landskorna Photo Festival
  • Zarina Bhimji, photographer and former Turner Prize nominee
  • Lucy Conticello, Director of Photography at M magazine, Le Monde
  • MaryAnne Golon, Director of Photography at The Washington Post
  • Aïda Muluneh, photographer, director and Curator of the Addis Photo Fest and Canon Ambassador
  • Claire-Anne Devillard, Marketing Director of Canon France
  • Susie Donaldson, Marketing Director for ITCG at Canon Europe

4. Anush Babajanyan exhibition

This year's festival will include an exhibition of work by 2019 Canon Female Photojournalist Grant winner and member of the VII Photo Agency Anush Babajanyan. Her project, A Troubled Home, focused on large families in the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, a region in the South Caucasus where the government has encouraged the growth of the ethnic Armenian population. Anush began working in the region in 2016 when violence erupted during the Four Day War, and wanted to explore the reasons behind the area's growing families.

Anush's exhibition, the culmination of her work on the project over the last year, will take place at Couvent des Minimes in Perpignan and online.

A group of students and a mentor at Visa pour l'Image discuss the images on the table in front of them.
Student Development Programme sessions will be different this year, with group portfolio reviews taking place online and viewable by the public. The best images will be published in a book at the end of the year.

5. 2020 Canon Video Grant winner

Visa pour l'Image 2020 is a year of many firsts, including the presentation of the inaugural Canon Video Grant. The recipient will get an €8,000 grant plus the loan of a Canon video camera and two cine lenses to make a short documentary of approximately eight minutes in length.

The winner of this year's Canon Video Grant is French-Swiss photographer and filmmaker Michaël Zumstein. The investigative journalist spends his time working on commissions for the French and international press, as well as on personal projects.

The judging panel for this grant was made up of these documentary filmmaking experts:
  • Lucas Menget, News Deputy Director at FranceInfo
  • Nyancho NwaNri, lens-based artist, freelance documentary photographer and Canon Miraisha educator
  • Gabrielle Fonseca Johnson, Senior Editor, Special Projects and The Wider Image at Reuters
  • Stéphane Arnaud, Global Photo Editor in Chief at AFP
  • Olivier Sarbil, documentary director and Emmy-winning cinematographer
  • Ema Edosio Deelen, filmmaker and director (BBC and Netflix Africa)
  • Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times journalist and documentary filmmaker

6. Victor Moriyama exhibition

Amazon Deforestation, an exhibit by Brazilian documentary photographer Victor Moriyama, focuses on the environmental impact of the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. 2019 saw the highest loss in Brazilian rainforest in a decade. Victor spent two months documenting climate change and this sad episode in history on a special assignment for The New York Times.

Victor's exhibition will take place at Couvent des Minimes in Perpignan and online, easily accessed through the Canon Digital Lounge.

A woman lies on a bed gazing at her baby, who holds a toy and looks at the camera.
This image by Axelle de Russé's On the Outside project shows mother Adeline with her daughter Charlie, whom she has managed to retain custody of following her release from prison. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM (succeeded by the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM) lens at 1/25 sec, f/2.2 and ISO500. © Axelle de Russé / Hans Lucas

7. Axelle de Russé exhibition

French photojournalist and 2007 Canon Female Photojournalist Grant recipient Axelle de Russé is known for her work on long-term projects. Her exhibition at Visa pour l'Image 2020, On the Outside, focuses on the lives of women in France released from prison and struggling to fit back into society. The women are often abandoned by their families and stigmatised by the communities they return to. Rehabilitating back into life on the outside can be difficult and 60% of women are back in the prison system within five years of their release. The project centres on the struggles these women – who represent about 3.5% of the prison population in France 2019 – have to face.

Axelle's exhibition will take place at Couvent des Minimes in Perpignan and online.

A man lies in bed surrounded by Italian Red Cross volunteers. A painting of the Virgin Mary hangs on the wall. Photo by Fabio Bucciarelli.
Fabio Bucciarelli's Covid-19 series included this shot of patient Claudio Travelli resting at home in bed after being examined by Italian Red Cross volunteers. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM lens at 1/160 sec, f/1.8 and ISO1600. © Fabio Bucciarelli for The New York Times

8. Covid-19 Collective Exhibition

This collective work, called simply The Pandemic, will showcase images by photographers from all over the world who have documented the largest global pandemic of modern times and the biggest story of the year. The collective exhibition includes some of Fabio Bucciarelli's powerful and intimate images for The New York Times.

This exhibition will take place at Couvent des Minimes in Perpignan and online, easily accessed through the Canon Digital Lounge.

Find out more about Visa pour l'Image and read all the Canon-related stories on our Visa pour l'Image event page.

Autor: Tamzin Wilks

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