[ CULTURAL PRACTICES ] A set of photographs that increases the understanding and appreciation of a cultural practice. It can be about festivals, religion, traditions, or contemporary cultural trends. Submissions do not have to adhere to documentary principles. Alternate processes and digital manipulations are allowed. Each submission consists of 5 to 20 images. Each participant is allowed to enter up to 2 submissions. The images must be taken in 2020 or 2021.

Judges for Cultural Practices
Anush Babajanyan
Liang-Pin Tsao
Nyimas Laula
Samuel He
Jean Chung
Our Proud Sponsors

First Place

Tompo

Alexey Vasilyev
Independent
Russia

Topolinoye village is located in the eastern part of Yakutia (Russian Federation), on the left bank of the Tompo River. The word ‘tompo’ in Even means ‘thread’. The population of the village is about 1000 people. Native people, evens, are representatives of one of the small nations of the North. The village was founded in the 30s of the XX century as a result of collectivization of reindeer herding and fishing farms. Long ago the evens had a nomadic life when were engaged in deer breeding. They were called reindeer people, they were the masters of the mountains and taiga. However, with the advent of Soviet authorities, the evens were brought to a settled lifestyle, due to which the areas of their settlement were reduced, and the family continuity that preserved the language and culture was broken. The traditional economy, which had been developing over the centuries, was completely subordinated to the Soviet system. The coexistence of humans and deer has always been a part of their daily life. The deer was everything for the even: house, transport, food, warm clothes, shoes, bed. The even proverb says: ‘No deer – no even’. If the evens will stop grazing reindeer – they will leave to the city, lose language, forget traditions, assimilate. There is a conflict between the even way of life, culture which is tied to nature and the lifestyle of outer world. The modern world does not always leave enough opportunities for an alternative lifestyle. In spite of everything, reindeer people who lives by the river in harmony with nature, preserve their national identity, dignity and looking forward with hope.
Every year, millions of Chinese tourists flock to museums and sites that pay tribute to the country’s Communist Party (CCP) and its revolutionary past spending millions of yuan on the political pilgrimages, which are central to what is known in China as ‘Red Tourism’. The tours take visitors to historically significant sites for the Party, battlefields, and residences of important former communist leaders. In 2021, with the Party marking its 100th anniversary, the stream of visitors was expected to reach its zenith. Estimates show, that more than 800 million travels take place every year to ‘red tourism’ sites or tourism-related with the Communist Party history and legacy. The booming industry is also pushed by the government, which invested 2.68 billion yuan (around 341 million euros) for its development between 2016 and 2020. As well as tourists, workers from state companies and CCP members also come to take classes at party-run centers. The course teachers insist that students can debate the history of the Party but stop short of saying whether discussions are allowed on some of the CCP’s more contentious periods, such as the Great Leap Forward between 1958 and 1962 that left anywhere between 15 and 55 million people dead due to famine, or the purges amid the chaos and violence of the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976. Before the CCP’s 100th anniversary, Chinese authorities have opened a hotline to receive tips of online comments that disparage the Party and its history – all a part of an ongoing campaign against those who disagree with the Party line or “who deny the excellence of advanced socialist culture”.

Finalist

Mutahallims

Madina Gadjieva
Independent
Russia

During recent decades, the interest to religion greatly increased in Dagestan. In Soviet times people were restricted in getting knowledge about Islam because of official promotion of atheism but after the collapse of the USSR the ban on religious education was lifted. Educational facilities were established everywhere –both elementary schools (madrasas and maktabs) and universities. Being established at mosques or Islamic universities madrasas are religious schools where every person of any age can receive education. Not only religious subjects – reading and interpretation of the Koran, performing prayers, hadiths (records of the life and words of the prophet Muhammad) – but secular disciplines are studied there as well. Education in such schools is always separate- for men and women. Students of these schools are called mutahallims and young girls are usually called mutahallimkas. There are several types of female madrasas in Dagestan. Some of them work as evening studies for grown-ups. Other ones organize lessons for children on weekends and summer vacations. Special madrasas accept girls after they have finished secular schools. Girls are taught here for one or few years depending on programs. Following strict rules is the hallmark of these madrasas. Spiritual and moral development of women is of great importance in religious schools. A woman should be modest and obedient at the behest of the Most High. As it follows from Islam, the strive for knowledge is one of duties of every believer. My photo essay is dedicated to Muslim women of Dagestan, to their pursuit of data on the religion and their desire to share the information with others.
Afghan immigrants have a long history of coexistence with the people of Iran. These two countries are speaking the same Persian language and have believe in the common religion of Islam. In these years, about 3 million Afghans entered Iran, half of whom are legal immigrants. They are totally banned from living in 15 provinces. Regardless of the policy of different countries to deal with an immigrant community, Additionally, their religion and traditions also increases the pressures on a large body of the society who are and children and women. This includes deciding on the level of education for children, choosing a spouse for a girl, determining the age of her marriage, the details like her dress and makeup, not considering the desire of women for consecutive pregnancies and bigamy are just some of the examples of taking their freedom. They only color and acquaint this alien black for themselves with the help of their feminine glaze. The girl is suddenly expected to behave like adult and thinks that being in the position of a woman who has a husband brings her more freedom of action. In this situation, the custom that ignores their childhood, adolescence, education and dreams, suddenly happen to have different plans for each part of the marriage process. Fortunately, with the global influence of the media in the world, girls are gradually demanding their basic and obvious rights, peacefully or through war. Afghans’ interest in celebrating considers religious ceremonies such as Eid al-Adha are one of the most important days of the year for them. A few days before this, the men of the family go to the slaughterhouse and buy the sheep or cow depending their financial budget. From the morning until the night of Eid, families are excited and then men go to the part in the yard where they consider sacrificing. Despite killing the animals is public, this feels like a celebration for them which in, the traces of blood are disappeared through the joy of human beings!

Award of Excellence

Fairy Tales End

Elena Kalyuzhnaya
Independent
Russia

In Russia fabrication of criminal cases has become a daily practice. There are no official statistics that would help assess the scale, but according to a member of the Presidential Council for Human Rights, every fifth prisoner in Russia is either not involved in a crime or is imprisoned for more serious crimes. Regardless of status, political views, integrity and law-abidingness, a person may face criminal prosecution. A criminal case can arise both because of the persecution, and simply to fulfill the reporting of law enforcement officers. The ordinariness and absurdity of such situations inspired me to create a project. In a situation where it is difficult to oppose anything to the system, it often remains only to be ironic. In this project I use the folklore images of Russian culture in order to emphasize the theatricality of the falsified cases. I stage these cases using materials at hand, just as it happens in absurd criminal proceedings. All photos are based on real cases.

Award of Excellence

Dark Site

Mikhail Lebedev
Independent
Russia

This project focuses on drug related crimes in Russia and the darknet influence on this process. For shooting I’ve used broken camera, which deforms images. In my opinion, this visual way discloses relations between the darknet and us. The Internet casts its invisible shadow over our real world. Also this visual approach accorded well with traditions of documentary photography. On one hand I don’t develop my photos, on the other hand it invites us to think about the nature of the photographic images. The darknet and a digital camera have one origin — binary code. In Russia, 25-50 percent of prisoners are serving sentences for drug-related crimes. There are two major factors for that. Firstly, drugs are easy accessible today. We have witnessed a technological revolution in this area of crime. You can buy all kinds of drugs on online marketplaces in the darknet. All you need to have is Smartphone and Tor browser. Secondly, the situation is complicated by extremely repressive legislation. Even for possession of a small amount of drugs, a person can get a prison sentence of up to 10 years. I have shot people who have had sentences for drug-related crimes. I also have shot the urban landscape, the places where dealers hide “bundels” the most often.

Award of Excellence

We Live To Fight

Zobayer Joati
Independent
Bangladesh

Martial arts hold a vast and vital role in the world of sports and history. In Bangladesh, people practice different forms of martial arts, including the traditional forms known as “Bangladeshi martial arts.” Initially, during the British period, various Bangladeshi martial arts were originated for the need to protect villagers from Zamindars (landowners), who used to send lathial groups to collect taxes from villagers forcibly. Though martial arts had been practiced in Bangladesh since before the liberation war, the official journey began after the liberation by founding Bangladesh Judo and Karate Federation in 1972 and Bangladesh Martial Art Confederation in 1997. At present, Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), Boxing, Taekwondo, Karate, Wushu, Kickboxing are some of the common martial art forms in Bangladesh. These martial arts are practiced mainly for playing sports, learning self-defense, and military training in Bangladesh. Federations and private clubs often held several amateur and professional martial art tournaments. Many players have competed in different international events and achieved several medals also. Many martial art clubs provide basic self-defense training to girls to protect themselves against public harassment. However, despite the international records, many players and even some clubs often suffer from poor financial conditions for the lack of funding. Also, considered as an underground sport, they don’t get enough attention from the media either. “We live to Fight” attempts to explore the underlying cultures, lifestyles, history, individual stories, and underground fighting scenarios of different martial art communities in Bangladesh.

Award of Excellence

Theologians

Sergey Pronin
Independent
Russia

“Theologians” – is a series shot in the summer camp of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University’s Theological faculty in July 2021. Its participants are mainly – the undergraduate, postgraduate students and professors. It’s situated near St. John the Theologian’s monastery in Ryazan region. Here students of St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University’s Theological faculty get to know each other in a new way, become a single community. The camp combines the theory and practice of theology: lectures and classes are combined with constant prayer, confession and liturgy. Apparently, it’s an artistic license to call all the camp’s participants – “the theologians”. In the Orthodox tradition there has only been three people who awarded the title of “the Theologian”: the Apostle and Evangelist John the Theologian, Gregory the Theologian and Symeon the New Theologian, let alone the ordinary students. In this project – it’s the spirit of the youth’s romance that matters, – the desire to delve into the ancient texts and the audacity to speak on the most important and mysterious – on God and the divine world-order.