Emphas.is on the Story
By Tim Gauss
This post is part of RP’s art and media for social change blog series.
Just how far can innovative social media and art be used to increase global awareness of social injustices that otherwise go largely unnoticed? One answer may lie in Emphas.is—a funding platform encouraging photojournalists to pitch their stories and create an open dialogue with potential investors—everyday people who simply believe in the cause without looking for financial profit. In return, these socially conscience supporters receive something more valuable—the shared experience and insight into the creative experience of the photojournalist.
Let us take for example a project proposed by Turkey based photographer Carolyn Drake – recipient of a Fulbright fellowship, the Lange Taylor Documentary Prize, and a Guggenheim fellowship. Carolyn began an in-depth photo-essay surrounding China’s “Go West” policy and the effects on the Uyghurs – a group of Turkic-speaking Muslims in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region that takes up one fifth of China’s land mass.
As a means to ascertain more control and utilize natural resources, the Chinese government has established it’s own “manifest destiny;” encouraging loyal Han Chinese to push westward. This in turn forces the Uyghurs to the fringes of their own territory – a place where cultural and religious rights are severely restricted and oppressed.
Birthed in the shadow of the Tibetan struggle for independence from China, the story of the Uyghurs is one worth shedding light on. In her own words, Carolyn “aims to challenge the politically slanted storylines by working toward a compassionate story of the Uyghurs told from inside their world.”
In a recent blog post, Carolyn has also offered a series of “rewards” dependent on the amount donated. These include signed postcards, MP3’s, hand sewn hats, pieces of Hotan jade, archival prints and even the chance to meet with Carolyn for a private workshop or lecture.
Although Emphas.is in its infancy, it appears as though it has established itself as an invaluable funding tool and people are taking notice. Recently, iconic street artist Shepard Fairey has collaborated with the Pine Ridge Billboard Project in creating limited edition prints that raise awareness for the Sioux Nation reservation camp injustices.
What truly sets Emphas.is apart is the fact that it allows for a deeper connection to the project by using a traditional social media tool to make supporters feel like they are more than casual observers.
Get involved in the story: http://emphas.is/