The Africa Center, Harlem
New York, August 5 – September 3, 2023
London, September 26 – October 8, 2023
New York/London – The END Fund, through the support of Reaching the Last Mile, is pleased to announce Reframing Neglect, a new photography series creative directed by contemporary artist and activist Aïda Muluneh, highlighting the need to end neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) globally. The collection will be showing in partnership with The Africa Center, Harlem, August 3 – September 5, before traveling to Cromwell Place London, September 26 – October 8, 2023.
The full series includes 38 photos by photographers from seven African countries; through fine art and documentary photography, the artists highlight the weight of NTDs on individuals and communities, using art as a tool of shared human emotion while addressing the need to spread awareness of neglected diseases.
The END Fund mobilizes resources for NTDs and focuses on delivering treatments to those in need by growing and engaging a community of activist-philanthropists, managing high-impact strategic investments, and working in collaboration with government, NGO, pharmaceutical, and academic partners. To celebrate ten years of impact, the END Fund engaged Muluneh to create a body of work with photographers from across six countries in Africa impacted by NTDs: Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, and Sudan. Reframing Neglect includes photography by Messeret Argaw (b. Ethiopia, 1989), Mustafa Saeed (b. Somalia, b. 1986), Sarah Wasiwa (b. Uganda, 1980), John Kalapo (b. Mali, 1983), Omoregie Osakpolor (b. Nigeria, 1990) and Ala Kheir (b. Sudan, 1985).
Muluneh embeds multiple layers of narrative into each image to create a powerful interpretation of the impacts of NTDs on gender equity, mental health, mobility, and access to resources. Using bright colors and respect for tradition as her vehicle, Muluneh’s work dismantles renderings of a bleak and impoverished Africa. In her latest collection on view, titled The Crimson Echo (2021), Muluneh uses motifs of both insects (‘The Barriers Within’) and abstracted body parts (‘I Sail on The Memories of My Dreams’), which lend specific attention to the disease vectors and physical manifestations of NTDs that are often overlooked.
Sudanese photographer Ala Kheir layers photos of people and places in his series. Kheir highlights a neighborhood on the outskirts of Khartoum known as the Stables Industrial Area, where families who flee unstable regions have made makeshift homes. His work highlights the people forced to find refuge in places that are not suitable to be homes. These new neighborhoods have sprouted in the peripheries of the city, and it is where the majority of people living with NTDs reside.
Sarah Waiswa, a Ugandan-born, Kenya-based photographer, follows Eunice Atieno, a 48-year-old single mother who for 11 years has been living with lymphatic filariasis (LF), a disease caused by parasitic worms that is the leading cause of permanent disability worldwide. In its advanced stage, the disease leads to complications of swollen legs with rough, thickened skin and can occur in other parts of the body, including the scrotum. In 2019, Eunice was diagnosed with LF following a mass drug administration exercise that took place in her neighborhood.
Somali documentary photographer and visual artist Mustafa Saeed focuses on dissecting the emotional turmoil that intestinal worms have on people impacted. Through colorful ropes and garments, Mustafa conveys the neglect and feeling of imprisonment from a disease that can easily be treated.
Malian photographer, John Kalapo, documents people living with NTDs in the Kita region of the country. Through formal portraits, he captures the physical impact of the disease while maintaining the dignity of the people he photographs. He focuses on documenting cases of river blindness and LF in the villages of Sagabary, Boukarybaye-Bohan, and Kita town.
Ethiopian photographer Meseret Argaw explores the social, economic, and mental health impact NTDs have on women living in rural communities in Ethiopia. Through conceptual pieces, she illustrates how NTDs force women into cycles of poverty.
Omoregie Osakpolor is an emerging documentary photographer living in Lagos, Nigeria. In this series, he documents the activities of END Fund partner, the Amen Foundation, which works on NTDs in Gombe, Nigeria. Nigeria has one of the highest rates of NTDs in the world, with over 166 million people at risk. The series illustrates the physical impact of NTDs on patients and how health workers are tackling the group of diseases in their communities.
As the END Fund continues to seek partnerships that elevate the voices of the communities in which they operate, Reframing Neglect serves as a testament to impactful storytelling and speaks to the urgency with which we must collectively act to address the burden of these neglected diseases and the impact they have on communities.
Muluneh comments ‘NTDs are a group of treatable, preventable diseases that needlessly hold back the lives and livelihoods of 1.7 billion people, a disproportionate number of whom are women and girls. Art has the capacity to shift perceptions, complementing more traditional modes of advocacy. My hope is that this collection helps educate and inspire audiences to action for NTD elimination while also sharing an African perspective through the work of myself and the other photographers featured in the collection.’
Sam Mayer, Vice President of Public Affairs at the END Fund, comments: ‘We’re thrilled to be able to showcase this important work in New York and London, where the culture of art and imagery is so rich. Storytelling has long been used as one of the most powerful communication tools to educate, unify, and spur action. Reframing Neglect is a wonderful example of this from a new series of storytelling partnerships that allows the END Fund and our partners to increase awareness of NTDs and the needless impact they have on millions of people across Africa and beyond. Our work with Muluneh emphasizes our priority to amplify the narratives of storytellers that are representative of the communities we work with, upholding our collective commitment to fundamental human dignity, and highlighting the impact of our programs with fuller and more authentic perspectives.’
Uzodinma Iweala, CEO of The Africa Center, said: “We are honored to collaborate with esteemed photographers from across the African continent and our valued partner, the END Fund, on this profound exhibit at The Africa Center. Their lenses capture not just images but the very essence of the struggles and triumphs against NTDs – a preventable challenge that has touched countless lives. Through this exhibit, we hope to amplify voices, share unique perspectives, and most importantly, drive collective action towards a brighter, healthier future for all.”
About the Artists
Aïda Muluneh was born in Addis Ababa in 1974. Muluneh graduated from Howard University in Washington D.C with a degree from the Communication Department with a major in Film. Her photography has been published widely and can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, Hood Museum, The RISD Museum of Art, and the Museum of Biblical Art in the United States. She was the 2007 recipient of the European Union Prize in the Rencontres Africaines de la Photographie in Bamako, Mali, the 2010 winner of the CRAF International Award of Photography in Spilimbergo, Italy, and 2018 CatchLight Fellow in San Francisco, USA. In 2019, she became the first black woman to co-curate the Nobel Peace Prize exhibition, and in the following year, she returned as a commissioned artist for the prize.
Ala Kheir’s photography visits different parts of Khartoum to engage with the city where he grew up. His images use a subtle approach to address the complexity of the city, as well as the socio-economic issues that now shape the city. Ala Kheir currently runs TOV (The Other Vision, a photography platform), where he continues his efforts for education, networking, and awareness raising specifically for photographers as well as the general Sudanese public, aiming to advocate for photography to enable social engagement.
Sarah Waiswa is a Ugandan-born Kenyan-based documentary and portrait photographer with an interest in exploring the New African Identity on the continent. With degrees in sociology and psychology, Sarah’s work explores social issues in Africa in a contemporary and non-traditional way. In 2015, she was awarded first place in the story and creative categories in the Uganda Press Photo Awards and second place in the Daily Life and portrait categories. In 2016 she was awarded the Discovery Award in Arles, France, and in 2017, she was awarded the Gerald Kraak Award in Johannesburg, South Africa. In 2018, she was named a Canon Brand Ambassador.
Her work has been exhibited around the world, most recently at the Bristol Photo Festival 2021 in collaboration with the Bristol Archives. Her photographs have been published in the Washington Post, Bloomberg, and The New York Times, among other publications, and she has worked with brands such as Christian Dior and Chloe.
Mustafa Saeed is a Somali artist based in Hargeisa, Somalia. Saeed’s work combines different mediums, including photography, graphics, and sound, to explore socio-political issues, including war, conflict, and environment. He is a contributor to Everyday Africa and the founder of Fankeenna, a youth-led art platform that houses a studio, gallery, and workspace for local artists.
In 2015 he was chosen for the Arab Documentary Program ADPP, and his work has been exhibited at Addis Foto Fest (Addis Ababa), Lumières d’Afriques (Paris), and UNSEEN Photo Fair (Amsterdam). His work has also been widely published on news and media platforms, including the BBC.
John Moussa Kalapo uses narration and photojournalism to tackle daily societal issues. He worked as a digital technician on the Malian photographic archives project, which endeavors to conserve, digitize and, archive the works of famous African photographers such as Malick Sidibe, Abderrahmane Sakaly, Tijane Sitou, Adama Kouyate, Mamadou Cisse, and Félix Diallo.
Meseret Argaw has taken part in prestigious workshops, such as the Canon Student Development Program (2021), the Addis Foto Fest International Workshop (2020), the UNESCO Journalism Workshop (2015), and the Goethe Institute Portfolio Review (2016), among others.
Omoregie Osakpolor is an emerging documentary photographer living in Lagos, Nigeria. He is presently a mentee at the Nlele Institute Mentorship Programme and was nominated for the Edwin George Prize for Photography at The Future Africa Awards in 2017. Omoregie believes photography can be a source of societal change and hopes to engage his audience and society in general in cultural interactions. His work focuses primarily on culture and social justice. He has been referenced on CNN Africa and by leading Nigerian blogs and art journals. He has shown his works in both solo and group exhibitions in Lagos, Abuja, Benin City, North Carolina, Fotohof, Salzburg, Bournemouth University (Arts by the Sea 2019), UK and at the 12th Bamako Biennale (2019).
About the Partners
The END Fund is a private philanthropic initiative that exists to end the most prevalent neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). The fund efficiently puts private capital to work, advocating for NTD programs that are innovative, integrated, and cost-effective. It facilitates strong partnerships with the private sector, government partners, and local implementing partners to collaboratively support national disease programs. This is done through a proven implementation model that is tailored to meet the needs of individual countries, with the view to fostering healthier communities protected from the risks of NTDs. Since its founding in 2012, along with partners, the END Fund has distributed over 1 billion treatments across 31 countries, performed over 43,000 blindness and disability-preventing surgeries, and trained nearly 3.5 million health workers to pre-empt and treat NTDs. More at www.end.org
Reaching the Last Mile (RLM)
Reaching the Last Mile (RLM) is a portfolio of global health programs working towards disease elimination that is driven by the personal commitment of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. The Initiative provides treatment and preventative care in communities that lack access to quality health services, with a specific focus on reaching the last mile of disease elimination. RLM’s mission represents His Highness’s dedication to ending preventable diseases that affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities and helping millions of children and adults live healthy, dignified lives. More at www.reachingthelastmile.com
About The Africa Center
The Africa Center is a multidisciplinary institution that is shaping a vision for the future of Africa. Serving as a platform for the exchange of ideas around culture, business, and policy as related to the continent, The Africa Center advances thought and action around Africa’s global influence and impact on our collective futures. More at www.theafricacenter.org.
The presentation of Reframing Neglect will complement Cromwell Place’s autumn programming focus on African art. Set within five Grade II listed Victorian townhouses in South Kensington, Cromwell Place is one of London’s most exciting arts destinations, offering a year-round program of diverse exhibitions open to the public across 14 gallery spaces. As a membership organization and innovative arts hub, it also provides an environment in which galleries, collectors, dealers, curators, and arts professionals can collaborate and flourish together. More at www.cromwellplace.com
Photo Credit: The Blind Gaze, Aïda Muluneh, 2021
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