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Since 1985, the International Center of Photography has recognized outstanding achievements in photography with its prestigious Infinity Awards. The awards ceremony is also ICP’s primary fundraising benefit, with its revenues assisting the center's various programs.

Harbers Studios commissioned MediaStorm, on behalf of ICP, to create a short film about each of the recipients to screen at the awards ceremony and to display online. The films pay tribute to the contributions of each artist to the craft and field of photography and demonstrate ICP's commitment to them.

This year’s winner for “Online Platform and New Media” is For Freedoms, the first artist-run Super PAC. Led by Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms is a space for artists to engage a wider public on questions of civil and political life, provoking nuanced conversation around the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. The organization developed public billboards, lawn signs, advertisement and other tactics that Super PACs traditionally use to ask audiences to think deeply about the true consequences of this election. The result is a collection of works that blur the lines between art and politics.

Client: Harbers Studios, International Center of Photography
Published: April 24, 2017

The Challenge
The primary challenge in creating this film was that the multitudinous work created as part of the For Freedoms PAC was just as much about the art as the ideas that inspired their endeavours.This left the producers with a challenge: how to explain the concepts behind the art, even if those ideas were not evident in the work itself? In other words, what visuals do you use to illustrate a film that is based on ideas? For example, a central piece of the work was lawn signs that people could fill out themselves. Rather than just say “Hillary 2016” or “Trump 2016”, like a traditional lawn sign, the artists asked audience to declare what they wanted freedom from; and freedom of. In this way, what they were asking audiences to do went far beyond declaring allegiance to a single candidate. Rather, they were asking audiences to claim what it is they really wanted from their government. This idea could not be given its due justice simply by showing the lawn signs.

The Solution
In order to contextualize the concepts and goals of For Freedoms, the film’s producer used footage of the civil rights movement as well as contemporary protests. This archival and news video allowed the editor to use a more comfortable pace for the interviews, allowing the subjects to speak about their work with more depth. In this way, we were able to demonstrate that the criticality of this work lay not in the visual works themselves, but in the ways they provoked people, in the ways that they asked uncomfortable questions, and in the ways they prompted dialogue on issues outside of the mainstream political discourse.

The Results
The film premiered on April 24, 2017 at the ICP Infinity Awards Gala in Chelsea Piers, New York City. The films were the special feature of the evening and a critical fundraising tool.

About the Client
This film was a collaboration with Harbers Studio and the International Center of Photography.

Harbers Studios turbocharges the efforts of charitable entrepreneurs by helping them tell their stories. Our goal is to help them articulate and share the value of the work they do so they can inspire others to help them do it. Working with some of the best filmmaking talent in the world, Harbers Studios creates compelling visual narratives that enhance the endeavors of organizations working to make the world a better place.

The International Center of Photography (ICP) is the world’s leading institution dedicated to the practice and understanding of photography and the reproduced image in all its forms. Through exhibitions, educational programs, and community outreach, ICP offers an open forum for dialogue about the role images play in our culture. Since ICP’s founding, they have presented more than 500 exhibitions and offered thousands of classes, providing instruction at every level. ICP is a center where photographers and artists, students and scholars can create and interpret the world of the image within our comprehensive educational facilities and archive.

Individual Films

After spending a year on a failed photographic project in China, Michael Christopher Brown needed a change. A year later, he was recovering from a near fatal injury, and the wounds of a loss that shook the photography community to its core. Watch it now.

“Vision & Justice” explores how photography has been weaponized to both denigrate and celebrate African American life. This publication honors the works of African American artists who seek to reframe the visual narrative. Watch it now.

In his retelling of the Indian epic the Ramayana, Vasantha Yogananthan explores the space between truth and fiction, merging documentary and fine art photography to create a story about how the myth impacts Indian society today. Watch it now.

By following the seemingly mundane bureaucratic paper trail of the War on Terror, Photographer Edmund Clark and investigator Crofton Black uncover secrets the government would rather keep hidden. Watch it now.

For Freedoms is the first artist-run Super PAC. The PAC was founded by photographers and artists to engage in the political process and offer more complex messages. Watch it now.

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