Heifer International has teamed up with high-class fashion magazine Hunger to conduct a photography competition aimed at raising awareness of hunger. Founded in 1944, Heifer International is a non-profit that aspires to raise people out of poverty by providing them with livestock and agricultural training. Now, they are trying to get new circles of society talking about hunger.
According to President and CEO Pierre Ferrari, the contest’s goal is to “get a new segment of society talking about a sensitive subject” using the power of imagery. He believes, “A single image can raise awareness, capture the essence of what we are trying to do, and possibly end the plague of poverty.” Specifically, he is hoping that the competition will help start conversations in upper-class social circles, where it can be easy to ignore poverty in our own society and around the world. Hunger magazine provides the perfect platform for these discussions. “A place of culture like Hunger magazine,” Ferrari said, “enables [Heifer International] to reach out to people with different perspectives on humanity, and it gives us an ability to start a new discussion.”
All photographers, from amateurs to professionals, were asked to submit images that they felt portrayed the word “hunger.” Submissions were taken online through a creative platform Talenthouse between May 21 and July 2, 2013. During the following two weeks, a public vote determined the finalists.
Submissions came in from all over the world. They include a confronting still life contrasting a barren table with an opulent one, an image of silverware with bites taken out of them, and numerous shots of extremely skinny women with bones protruding. Some critics have raised the concern that such images contribute more to the glorification of eating disorders as something necessary to reach the peak of fashion, and accuse them of diverting attention away from world poverty. However, Ferrari trusts his audience to draw their own connections, suggesting that “the reader/audience is a lot more intellectual than in the past” and that integrating the fashion world into the realm of fine art photography can widen the competition’s potential audience.
The winner will be chosen by renowned fashion photographer Rankin, who oversees the production of Hunger magazine. His decision was supposed to be announced on July 23, but he has requested additional time, citing the large quantity of excellent submissions.
This competition is an excellent illustration of high-class society effectively using its resources to benefit the greater good. It is imperative to get people talking about and working against hunger, and the high-class fashion circles represent a largely untapped resource on this front. Hunger magazine is commendably using its reputation as a platform for activism, an example that other corporations would do well to emulate.
– Katie Fullerton