THIS-ABILITY

Youmanity is a London-based charity that devises and deliver cultural projects which are designed to raise awareness of important social issues, celebrate equality, support social inclusion and promote human rights. Here, they tell us about their latest photography project, THIS-ABILITY.

Walking down the large, modern, spiral ramp in London City Hall you will come across Youmanity’s striking exhibition of 25 photos, all mounted on large foam boards. 

Entitled THIS-ABILITY the City Hall exhibition challenges stereotypes surrounding disability by celebrating the lives of incredibly inspirational people. 

The title panel of the exhibition reads:

“The term ‘disability’ is broad and encompasses both visible and non-visible conditions. Society’s assumption that disabled people want to overcome their disability fails to recognise disability as an identity, often overlooking the strengths that come with it.” 

Each photograph represents the life of a different person with a disability. The photographs each have their own caption where the person in the photograph speaks to you. 

marco-mariani-3

© Marco Mariani

To create this exhibition we invited photographers from all over the world to submit images that celebrated the story, uniqueness and character of their models rather than their disability. We wanted to see images that challenge perceptions which stand in the way of a holistic view of a person’s achievements, success and accomplishments. Once these boundaries are removed, we see the individual emerge from within. The most outstanding photographs were selected by an expert panel of judges and showcased in the exhibition.

THIS-ABILITY received over three thousand photographic entries from 53 different countries offering a unique insight into the lives of many. The resulting THIS-ABILITY Photography Exhibition at London City Hall aims to unmask, myth-bust and educate. Giving us all the chance of thoughtful reflection, learning and inspiration. 

We selected three winners and 22 finalists. We’d like to share with you some stories we told about disability. 

sujan sarkar

The overall winner of This-Ability Photography Award was Sujan Sarkar with his reportage on Mukul Roy. A labourer from West Bengal, India, Mr Roy had relocated to Rajasthan to work in a stone-crushing plant when his right leg became stuck in a machine had to be amputated. Unemployed, Mr Roy returned to West Bengal where he learned to make handicrafts he proudly sells at the market. 

The second and third places were awarded to Sergey Kolesnikov, a Russian photographer who reported on the life of ‘Andrey’ who despite a brain injury, leads a reasonably self-sufficient life in Smolensk, Russia; and Marco Mariani, with an essay on Francesco Messori whose disability did not prevent him from becoming captain of the Italian amputee soccer Team.

Sergey Kolesnikov 2

© Sergey Kolesnikov

We urge you to go and see the exhibition for more incredible stories. It is FREE and open to the public. The exhibition closes on 25thJanuary 2018 but it has a possibility of being extended.

Any photographers will be pleased to know you can soon enter next year’s competition to be in with a chance to raise awareness of important issues, have your work exhibited in a prestigious London venue and win prize money. Youmanity’s next photography award will aim to raise awareness of the increasing incidence of suicide in the UK. 

Previous themes for the photography award include human trafficking, social identity and age and gender discrimination. You can find the images from these exhibitions and more about our charity at www.youmanity.today

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Featured image: © Youmanity 2018