HPA Getting Better Off: Report of Evaluation Observation on HPA2004

Published date: 2004-08-31    Clicks: 4135

HPA2004 attracted 1,868 photographers from 71 countries in the past 7 months. The growing international participation is a sign of HPA influence in recording and transmitting cultural diversity.

Nine jurors from 7 different countries stated their views on the HPA2004 after the final evaluation:

According to the chief juror Shen Che, the HPA2004 distinguished itself from the former ones in the cultural connotation and expression, photographic techniques as well as the internationalization of jurors.

Vincent Mentzel from Holland has been HPA judge for three times. In his opinion, HPA is an honest contest and is growing mature. It records Chinese folk culture and stretches out for other cultures. As he asserts, “we, as jurors, are required to show enough care and be responsible to carry out the mission of the contest.”

Franco Zecchin from Italy thinks that the jurors are from different cultures, thus it is especially important to establish a common idea to make decisions. The definition of “folklore” is quite essential. “Folklore” is a negative word in the West while it is positive in China. Cultural differences as such could be the root of misunderstandings. Folklore culture is part of history but is also in change. HPA as an international contest would surely influence world culture.

Jodi Bieber from South Africa assures that the high quality of the works is the key to attract international participation. Many works draws on local life but are visually stirring; whereas, most Chinese works draws on minority groups in remote areas instead of local materials.

Shirley Phillips from USA identifies with HPA mission and appreciates the contents of the works. Phillips thinks that the photos have cultural values and many of them are excellent enough to be exhibited. As a juror, Phillips makes decisions mainly from the point of cultural protection.

John Demos from Greece thinks that the purpose of folklore photography is to record cultural traditions. If the photos chosen are good enough, more people would be attracted to the contest.

Liang Jiatai from Singapore acknowledges the internationalization of both participants and jurors, which would help promote HPA influence. He also mentioned the cultural differences in understanding “folklore” that could influence the jurors’ decisions.

Deng Qiyao from China thinks that HPA should emphasis the documentary function of folklore photography. As he explains, posed pictures and news photos will be rejected.

An Ge from China says that the folklore photos from around the world made him to think over the significance of rescuing folk culture. HPA has greatly accelerated the protection of cultural heritage since local governments tend to promote economic development with folk culture.

Differences exist among the jurors in their cultures and scholarly attainments.

As an international contest, HPA has its jurors from various cultural backgrounds who often disagree with each other during the selection process. Thus the jurors were arranged according to their knowledge structures.

As folklore photography contest, HPA emphasizes folklore as essence, which is academically linked to anthropology and sociology. It’s not enough for a photographer to be a HPA juror if he only knows photos well. Among this year’s HPA jurors, a Chinese anthropologist and an American human museum curator appeared for the first time. Jurors who are scholars and who are photographers disagree with each other over the selection standard, so do they in understanding culture. How to communicate and erase the misunderstandings caused by cultural differences is a major problem for the jurors to solve.

Yet, it is also the cultural differences that created various folk customs. HPA serves as an opening gate for Chinese folk culture to introduce itself to the world and a stage for cultural communications between China and the West.

There are also some technical problems revealed in this year’s HPA and here are some tips accordingly:

  1. Considering the number of foreign jurors, English introduction to the photos are definitely necessary, and it will influence the competition directly.
  2. It is essential that the sequence numbers of the photos be clearly marked.
  3. Please pay attention to the entries of the last four HPAs and delve deeper into the uncompleted photo stories of yourselves.
  4. Photos of the so-called folk image projects are not expected. It is photos of original folk customs that are required.
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