REZA VISUAL ACADEMY
Convinced that the language of images can help create a sense of resiliency in vulnerable societies, the renowned photojournalist Reza created the association Reza Visual Academy to implement photo-training workshops for youths living in precarious civil societies like refugee camps or disadvantaged suburbs, all over the world. Photography is used as a tool to empower local actors in order to make them informed and able to express themselves using the latest information and communication tools. The overall aim is to promote self-esteem and self-sufficiency in order to develop a stable and peaceful society.
URBAN VOICES IN BUENOS AIRES
In Argentina, the “villas” are sensitive urban areas characterized by high vulnerability and low access to education. Both the neighbourhoods of Ejercito de los Andes, also known as “Fuerte Apache” and Villa 21-24 are seen as dangerous zones. Many fears and prejudices towards the inhabitants of those neighbourhoods prevail today, especially towards the youths. Reza Visual Academy has trained 46 of them to the use of photography as a tool of storytelling and emancipation.
The project “Urban Voices of Buenos Aires” is aimed at empowering youths from the “villas” by training them to become active witnesses of their destinies through photography. The workshops aim to:
46 youths (31 girls and 15 boys, aged 11 to 20) benefitted through the project.
Reza Visual Academy thus benefits the whole community. From the anonymity of "keeping to oneself", they earn a new visibility through the visual testimonies widely disseminated, locally and abroad, in exhibitions, media and social networks.
The youth now hold a new look upon their daily life and their environment. This project strengthens the self-esteem of its young beneficiaries. By capturing their territory, they reveal not just its harshness but also a certain poetry.
They seize the chance to tell their own stories and their dreams. As they become actors and witnesses of their lives, they influence the common representation of the favelas thanks to the intimate perspective they offer.
These young people are often the victims of prejudices related to the vulnerability of their neighbourhoods, of which they rarely have the opportunity to offer a more nuanced image.
This unique training is a real opportunity to exercise their freedom of expression, to shed through their creativity a new light on their surroundings, challenging the entrenched image of the collective subconscious. This leads to more inclusive opportunities for themselves and their peers.