On Wednesday, the Open Society Foundations will mark their 20th group exhibition of “Moving Walls” at their new location in midtown Manhattan. Initially conceived 15 years ago as a way to highlight the foundation’s issues and to support documentary photography, the exhibition highlights and adds value to important (and often under-reported) social issues.
At launch, the Foundations’ goals were focused on Eastern Europe and Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Now, the Moving Walls exhibition encompasses work from around the globe. This year, the exhibition features the work of 5 photographers from China, Russia and Ukraine to Sierra Leone and the countries of the Arab Spring.
“On Revolution Road,” a project by TIME contract photographer Yuri Kozyrev, features work from the uprisings and unrest in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. Shot on assignment for TIME, Kozyrev’s work demonstrates both the collective nature of world politics as well as the individual characteristics inherent to each nation’s unique issues. “In the end, the differences between the aftermaths of the region’s revolutions may be more important than their similarities,” he said.
Katharina Hesse‘s project, “Borderland: North Korean Refugees,” tells the individual narratives of North Korean refugees along the Chinese border. Because they’re classified by the Chinese government as ‘economic migrants’, the refugees are ineligible for official UN refugee status. “After experiencing a world like this, it just didn’t feel ‘right’ to take pictures and move on to the next job,” Hesse wrote. She has been shooting the project for nine years.
“Juveniles Waiting for Justice” is a project by Fernando Moleres shot in the Pademba Road prison in Freetown, Sierra Leone. There, some 1,300 prisoners languished in squalor, lacking proper hygiene and provisions while awaiting trial. “My Sierra Leone prison photography has been published in the European press,” Moleres said, “but I feel that the story has not exposed a broad audience to this tragedy.”
Ian Teh‘s project, “Traces: Landscapes in Transition on the Yellow River Basin,” explores the existential impact the Yellow River has on the more than 150 million people it directly sustains. “My photographs play with the tension between the Yellow River’s place in Chinese culture and history and China’s emergence as a major economic power,” he said. “By using the landscape, I attempt to show what happens when an area that was largely rural becomes increasingly urban and industrial.”
VII photographer Donald Weber‘s “Interrogations” takes a surreal view on the Russian judicial system. Photographing people inside police interrogation rooms, Weber captures “a place where justice and mercy and hope and despair are manufactured, bought, bartered and sold.” Says Weber: “With each image, I was looking to make a very simple photograph of an actual police interrogation, but also a complex portrait of the relationship between truth and power.”
Moving Walls in on view at the Open Society Foundations at 224 West 57th Street, New York City, from May 8 – December 13, 2013.