The Open Society Foundations partnered with United Photo Industries to tackle the issue of visual media representation of the overdose crisis. I was brought in as project manager and curator. We created a public-facing exhibit during Photoville in Brooklyn Bridge Park as well as a panel discussion for photo editors about how to more responsibly cover the crisis.
After a public RFP and independent research by the Open Society Foundations and United Photo Industries, we selected four photography projects that each raise a question that photojournalists and editors must grapple with when covering overdose.
"What is a photojournalist's responsibility to the people they photograph?" featuring Ryan Christopher Jones "What is the role of local perspectives in photojournalism?" featuring Rebecca Kiger "Is there room for personal narrative in photojournalism?" featuring Jordan Gale "How do you tell a story in one photo" featuring Christopher Capiozzello
My role involved crafting the public RFP, researching existing projects about overdose, communicating with all stakeholders to establish shared goals, conceiving of a curatorial approach for the exhibit, recommending projects to be selected for exhibition, working with photographers to select and sequence image for exhibition, editing exhibition text including all captions and artist statements.
The exhibit included an interactive component with a mock newspaper story and magnet prints of nine images that visitors could select as the front page image. The editing exercise was designed to challenge visitors to think about the inherent limitations of the medium, and to consider that for any moment we see depicted in the news media, there are countless other moments we don't see.
The exhibit was attended by tens of thousands of people over the two weekends of Photoville. The panel discussion, moderated by photographer and physician Zun Lee with New York Times photo editor Jeffrey Scales, photographer Ryan Christopher Jones, and New York State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance Kassandra Frederique, was attended by editors at major media outlets as well as experts in the field of harm reduction.