An Afar militiaman stands on salt flats in the Danakil depression in the Afar region of Ethiopia, November 2019. Finbarr O’Reilly for the Nobel Peace Center.
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For his Nobel Peace Prize commission, Finbarr O’Reilly collaborated with seven Ethiopian photographers, including three women, to create a joint exhibition around the Laureate, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. The resulting show, Crossroads Ethiopia, was co-curated by Addis FotoFest founder Aida Muluneh, the first black woman to co-curate a Nobel exhibition. Finbarr and Aida will discuss the exhibit and the collaborative nature of working together to curate the images.
As the 2020 Laureate of the Carmignac Photojournalism Award, Finbarr created a new digital project, Congo In Conversation, featuring photo, video and written reports from a network of Congolese journalists covering their country as it contends with the worst pandemic in a century, the second-deadliest Ebola epidemic in history, and the world’s worst measles outbreak. The journalists’ multi-platform stories on health, security, decolonization, and racial justice—more than half of them produced by women—explore global themes from local perspectives. As photojournalism grapples with ever-shrinking editorial budgets and growing calls for a more inclusive and representative industry, Finbarr will share how he has adapted his way of working to promote and showcase overlooked African talent.
Born in Addis Ababa in 1974, Aïda graduated with a degree from the Communication Department with a major in Film from Howard University in Washington D.C. Her photography can be found in several publications and also in the permanent collection at 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 is 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, a 2018 CatchLight Fellow in San Francisco, USA. In 2019, she also became the first black woman to co-curator of the Nobel Peace Prize exhibition while serving as a Canon Europe Ambassador.
She has been a jury member on several photography competitions, most notably the Sony World Photography Awards 2017 and the World Press Photo Contest 2017. She has also been on various panel discussions on photography, such as the African Union cultural summit, Art Basel, and Tedx/Johannesburg. In 2019, she also gave the renowned Sem Presser Lecture at the World Press Photo Festival in Amsterdam. Aida is the founder of the Addis Foto Fest (AFF), the first international photography festival in East Africa held since 2010. She continues to develop cultural projects with local and international institutions through her company DFA PLC in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Finbarr O’Reilly is an independent photographer and multimedia journalist, and the author of the nonfiction memoir, Shooting Ghosts, A U.S. Marine, a Combat Photographer, and Their Journey Back from War (Penguin Random House 2017). Finbarr lived for 12 years in West and Central Africa and has spent two decades covering conflicts in Congo, Chad, Sudan, Afghanistan, Libya, and Gaza. He is the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize exhibition photographer and a frequent contributor to The New York Times. His photography and multimedia work has earned numerous industry honors, including First Place in the Portraits category at the 2019 World Press Photo Awards. He was also winner of the World Press Photo of the Year in 2006.