2016 theme: Insiders / Outsiders

Art and activism make a powerful combination. Pride Photo Award merges the two, showcasing images that challenge stereotypes of sexuality and gender. And what better moment to celebrate diversity than Europride? This summer Amsterdam hosts both Europride and the sixth Pride Photo Award, making sexual and gender diversity the issue that everyone will be talking about.
 
The focus of the 2016 exhibition is ‘Insiders/Outsiders’, a theme that raises fascinating questions for both the LGBT community and photographers.
 

Queer Kids © Michael Sharkey

Queer Kids © Michael Sharkey


 
The subjects of previous Pride Photo Award winners are often ‘outsiders’ in the eyes of mainstream society, sometimes even rejected by their own families. When the artist allows us to glimpse an intimate moment in someone’s life, she issues a challenge: to imagine how it feels to be that person, the ‘outsider’. A photo can draw you into another world, like that of American LGBT teenagers in Michael Sharkey’s ‘Queer Kids’ series. Theirs may be a world that is far removed from our own, as in Benedicte Desrus’s moving portrait of two men in Uganda, during a prayer ceremony. The picture of the men lying together, gazing up at a beam of light illuminating the room, tells a tender story of intimacy in the face of social isolation. We are invited to be an ‘insider’ in their lives, for a moment.
 
Persecution of homosexuality in Uganda © Bénédicte Desrus / SIPA Press

Persecution of homosexuality in Uganda © Bénédicte Desrus / SIPA Press


 
The photographer was once considered the archetypal ‘outsider’, but artists like Nan Goldin have shattered this stereotype. In choosing to portray her own close friends, she rejects the role of the photographer as a voyeur, a gate-crasher at someone else’s party: “I’m not crashing; this is my party. This is my family, my friends.” Here, the photographer is very much an insider.
 
Contemporary artists are often inspired by those closest to them. The winner of the 2014 contest, for example, was ‘Boy’ by Parisa Taghizadeh, which shows the artist’s young son expressing his sense of self as he plays, dressing up in a style usually associated with girls. With images like this the artist becomes an activist, breaking down barriers that divide insiders from outsiders and questioning what it means to be ‘normal’.
 
Boy © Parisah Taghizadeh

Boy © Parisah Taghizadeh


 
Series related to the theme can be entered in the theme category for this year’s contest, which is expected to open in May. The other three categories will be Single Images, Stories and an Open category.
 
Further details of the contest such as the starting and closing dates and how to enter will be published on the website in May.

Pride Photo Award is an annual international contest for photos about sexual and gender diversity.

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