Materials Matter

A photography competition by Textile Exchange in partnership with Magnum Photos

Note, 2022 competition is now closed. 

From the clothing we put on our bodies to the fabrics that fill our homes, textiles touch our lives every day. They connect us to people and places, emotions, and experiences–but this connection is often missing from the stories we tell.  

That’s why, in partnership with Magnum Photos, Textile Exchange launched a competition calling on early career photographers to rebuild the visual narrative between textiles and people, place, culture, and nature.  

The theme of their joint competition, Materials Matter, invited entrants to trace textile items back to their roots, reframing their significance in our lives. Photographers explored the way we interact with materials, how they make us feel, and how they touch the hands and lands that help to make them.  

By placing these themes at the center of the story, the initiative hopes to reframe the way we relate to their environmental and social impacts. It is about altering our attitude towards these everyday items, all while providing a springboard for emerging talent to embrace visual storytelling the Magnum way.  

The first annual photography competition saw entries from 70 countries all over the world, with over 460 project submissions totaling over 7,100 images. Our winners were selected by a jury including Alice Aedy (Co-founder and Creative Director, Earthrise Studio), Chiara Bardelli Nonino (Senior Visual Editor, Vogue Italia), Claire Bergkamp (COO, Textile Exchange), Enri Canaj (Magnum photographer), Myriam Boulos (Magnum photographer) and Sonia Jeunet (Education Director, Magnum). 

The winner 2022: Anass Ouaziz, Morocco

Anass Ouaziz was born in Marrakech and raised in Beni Mellal. He has long found the sublime in the mundane even before he became a photographer back in 2015.

Anass considers photography to be an exercise in observation, and that stories emerge by simply paying attention. For him what comes out from these seemingly insignificant moments is a celebration of the beauty of the everyday. The extraordinary in the ordinary.

As our overall winner, Anass Ouaziz will receive an £8,000 commission as well as mentorship with a Magnum photographer.

All rights reserved to the artist

Meet the runners-up: Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen, Denmark and Yichen Zhou, China

Cecilie Nicoline Rasmussen is currently living and working in Copenhagen. Danish by nationality, she grew up in Oman, where she relied on observing body language and tiny details of her surroundings to interact in a different cultural discourse. Through this and looking at family albums of people back home, is how she became fascinated with the possibilities of what photography as a medium has to offer. 

All rights reserved to the artist

Yichen Zhou is an artist working with photography, video, performance, and installations. Her performance-based work explores her identity as part of a new generation of Chinese artists and points to the challenges of living in a world where she finds multiple cultures and values in conflict.

All rights reserved to the artist

As runners-up, Cecilie and Yichen will receive a £4,000 commission and coaching sessions with the Magnum Photos team. The winning entries will also be showcased in an original exhibition at the Textile Exchange Conference this November.

The 2022 competition is now closed, sign up to the newsletter to stay up to date  with this year’s winners and the latest announcement for 2023.

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