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OPEN 2022

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Women Behind the Lens



1. the act or an instance of migrating

2. a group of people, birds, etc, migrating in a body

3. chemistry a movement of atoms, ions, or molecules, such as the motion of ions in solution under the influence of electric fields


Migration has been taking place since the beginning of time. People move for a myriad of reasons:  in search of a better life, to join family or loved ones, to escape persecution, or perhaps for better job opportunities. People leave their homes, their families and lives they have known to create new friendships, families and memories in places they eventually might call home.

After the presence of the East India Company and two centuries of wrangling in South and South East Asia, direct British rule of India began formally in 1858. After almost a century, Pakistan was created and both countries became independent from British rule in 1947 (East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971). In all this time, hundreds of thousands of people moved from Pakistan/Kashmir/India to the UK. It will be 75 years of independence in August 2022 for India/Pakistan. Kashmir is still a disputed territory (and not officially recognised). Almost 2 million people from these countries are now living in the UK, some who may never feel ‘at home’, even after 75 years. 

Colonisation and the post-colonial aftermath has been and continues to be one of the major causes of the migration and displacement of millions of people, and historically has resulted in disruption, destruction and separation of communities, in some cases war and internal conflict.

Inspired by the migration of South Asian communities, the exhibition aims to explore what freedom of movement means. How does migration affect individuals and communities and how do different societies respond to the movement of people from one location to another? What are the reasons for migration and what are the freedoms and restrictions that may be associated with it?

Of course, not all migration is forced. Some people move from one city to another, or another country, to study, work or live with a partner. For some, they are inspired by a different way of life or feel more akin to a culture that is different from the place that they grew up. We want to hear all your stories of migration, whether they are serious or light hearted.

Sebah Chaudhry curates the exhibition with a panel of experts, including Cindy Sissokoho, Louise Fedotov-Clements, Mónica Alcázar-Duarte, Niamh Treacy, Rabbania Shirjeel and Tanvi Mishra.

Shortlisted Artists: Ala Buisir,  Alessandra Manzotti, Aneesa, Anna Laura Festa, Arit Emmanuela Etukudo, De Ferrier, Diana Takacsova. Jaskirt Kaur Boora, Jodie Bateman, Mandy Williams, Maria Chiara Caccia, Marjan Zahed-Kindersley, Natalia González Acosta, Nazik Armenakyan, Nilupa Yasmin, Nisa Khan, Roxana Allison, Seema Khalique, Sijia Ma, Suhitha Shetty, Tori King-Blake and Vera Hadzhiyska.

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The Artists

We are very excited to share the finalists for the AIS Open. The Jury members and Curator enjoyed going through the different projects, and the quality of work was very high. The final six artists are:


Ala Buisir, Ireland; Diana Takacsova, Slovakia; Jodie Bateman, United Kingdom; Nazik Armenakyan, Armenia; Natalia González Acosta, UK; Sijia Ma, China.

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Ala Buisir, Ireland


Ala is a visual artist/journalist. Born in Ireland with Libyan roots. A graduate with a BA in Photography from TU Dublin, and an MA in Journalism from DCU. She is currently doing a PhD by practice in UL. Her work documents the social and political tension around us today. The aim is to raise awareness by presenting events through different perspectives in hopes that it may also bring about change.

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Diana Takacsova, Slovakia


Diana is a Slovak-Hungarian visual storyteller whose work revolves around questions of identity, physical and emotional connection to place, migration, and the human relationship to nature and environment. She bridges various ways of storytelling, and explores personal narratives in the topics she is drawn to. 

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Jodie Bateman, United Kingdom

Muslim Women Should Not Stand Out

Jodie is a fine-art photographer who was born and raised in South London. Her first interest was in the way that photography can convey social messages and how she could use the medium to express personal feelings. Since converting to Islam in 2017, Jodie’s work started to shift and her interest now is in investigating and questioning the stereotypes associated with being a Muslim living in Western society. 

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Nazik Armenakyan, Armenia

Red Black White

Nazik Armenakyan focuses her attention on individuals and social groups living on the margins of Armenian society. She is one of the founders of the 4 Plus, a non-profit organization that aims to develop documentary photography in Armenia. 

Natalia González Acosta, UK

Community Mobilities and In/Visibilities

Natalia is a photographer with a social-documentary approach, based in London. Her practice explores the relationship between people and their environments by focusing on topics of migration, identity, belonging and the concept of home.

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Sijia Ma, China

A Hundred Stories

Sijia, is a visual artist based in Shanghai and MA. She is currently pursuing a B.A. in Studio Arts and Quantitative Economics at Smith College, MA. She also studied Graphic Design at Yale University and Photography at Amherst College in 2020. Sijia has worked to develop image-based projects and used the language of photography to explore the complexity of today’s Chinese identity in a subtler way.

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The Curator

Sebah Chaudhry

Sebah is a Freelance Creative Producer and Curator. She is experienced in working at international world class festivals, projects and events. She is Co-Founder and Co-Director of ReFramed, a photographic based visual arts network based in the Midlands, supporting the community and artists who are Black, Asian, or from other ethnic minorities. She is currently Project Coordinator of Picturing England’s High Streets, a Historic England funded project managed by Photoworks.

She was previously Creative Producer on an international British Council funded project with Ffotogallery, The Place I Call Home, connecting the UK to the Gulf region, culminating in 10 exhibitions from September 2019 — March 2020 in 7 countries.


From 2013 — 2017, Sebah was Coordinator at FORMAT Festival, the UK’s largest contemporary photography festival. She still works as a freelancer for FORMAT, organising the UK’s largest annual portfolio review. She also manages the Belfast Photo Festival Portfolio Review.

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Sebah reviews portfolios internationally and mentors artists. She is on the selection panel for the RPS IPE 163 Open Call and the BJP Portrait of Britain 2021. Currently UK editor for, Berlin, Steering Group member for FORMAT Festival, Derby and Board Member, Redeye Photography Network, Manchester.The first part of the selection process will be undertaken by curator Sebah Chaudhry. The final awards will be decided by a panel led by the curator and a panel composed of  judges who are experienced in the field of visual arts.

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The Jury

Cindy Sissokoho

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Cindy (b. Montreuil/France) is a cultural producer, curator and writer with a specific interest in intellectual, political and artistic aspects of decoloniality within the arts, and culture. Her work is nurtured by the urgency to broadening and disseminating epistemologies and new cultural production from the Global South.


She currently works as a Curator and Special Projects Producer at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham (UK).

Louise Fedotov-Clements

Louise has been the Artistic Director of QUAD since 2001, and the Director of FORMAT, which she co-founded in 2004. An independent curator since 1998 directing commissions, publications, performances and exhibitions.

Guest Curator for international exhibitions/festivals including Dong Gang (Yeongwol) South Korea; Photoquai Biennale Musée du quai Branly Paris; Les Rencontres Arles, Discoveries; Dali Photo, China; Poikkeustila 2020 Finland; Venice Biennale EM15; Photo Beijing, and LishuiPhoto China; Korea International Photo Festival. An international awards advisor, she has contributed to numerous publications as producer/writer/Editorial Team and a juror, portfolio reviewer, speaker in Europe, America, Africa & Asia.

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Mónica Alcázar-Duarte


Mónica is a Mexican-British multi-disciplinary visual artist whose work acknowledges her indigenous heritage while exploring current ideals of progress. She embraces themes related to science and technology and their influence over society and the natural world.  In her projects she mixes images and new technologies, such as Augmented Reality, to create multi-layered work, producing meaning through seemingly disconnected narratives. Alcazar-Duarte’s work confronts our obsession with speed and infinite growth on a planet crying out for us to slow down. 

Her work has been exhibited and collected throughout Europe, Mexico and the United States. 

Niamh Treacy

Niamh is the coordinator for FORMAT International Photography Festival. She has reviewed for international portfolio reviews such as Belfast Photography Festival and Uganda Press Photo. She is part of the FORMAT curatorial team and has curated shows for FORMAT and internationally such as Dali International Photo Exhibition and Lishui Photo Festival.

Niamh holds a BA in Photography from the University of Derby and is a graduate of the MA Fine Art course at Central Saint Martins.


Rabbania Shirjeel

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Over the last 6 years, Rabbania has worked as an artist, curator, educator in Pakistan. She completed her master’s in Art and Design from Beaconhouse National University in 2020 working on subjects like idea of home, migration, Partition 1947, and collective memory. Being the only Pakistani to have an honors degree in Photography, the idea of limiting to a single medium or working with specific interests is unfamiliar to her. She is interested in community building and expanding critical discourse on south Asian contemporary photography through exhibitions, residencies and panel talks. She has curated several exhibitions and residencies and contributed to the Pakistani Photography scene at large. Rabbania is now one of the 9 participants from South Asia for a photo project “New waves of documentary” under Pathshala South Asian Media Institute.

Tanvi Mishra

Tanvi works with images as a photo editor, curator, and writer, based in New Delhi, India. Among her interests are South Asian visual histories, peoples’ movements as well as the notion of fiction in photography, particularly in the current political landscape.

Until recently, she was the Creative Director of The Caravan, a journal of politics and culture published out of Delhi. She is part of the photo-editorial team of PIX, a South Asian publication and display practice. She works as an independent curator and has been part of the curatorial teams of Photo Kathmandu and Delhi Photo Festival, as well as the upcoming Breda Photo. Her writing on photography has been published in various platforms including Aperture, FOAM and The Caravan. She has served on multiple juries, including World Press Photo, Hindu Photojournalism Awards and the Catchlight grant. She has also been a curatorial collaborator for the Greenpeace Photo Award and a mentor for the Women Photograph program. She is one of four members of the first advisory board of World Press Photo.

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