After 70 years as an organization that was overwhelmingly made up of white, male photographers, the Magnum photo agency has announced the appointment of five new members and a new female president — the agency’s first.
Speaking to The Art Newspaper, Magnum’s chief executive officer Caitlin Hughes explained: “We’ve asked ourselves whether we’re looking broadly enough, whether we have a broad enough gaze to recognize talent when we see it.”
Chris Steele-Perkins was the first British person of color to join the agency and gave a warning over the dangers of positive discrimination: “What happens to the people who don’t deliver if it appears you’ve given them a hand up?”
The Art Newspaper claims that members admit that the agency has made deliberate efforts to stop attempts at modernization, preventing more diverse members from joining and deflecting efforts to tackle the agency’s reputation as an elitist organization. As discussed in this article, the gatekeepers of the photography world often look the same and prefer to maintain the status quo. Last week, Magnum was accused of hypocrisy for announcing its support for the Black Lives Matter movement while having so few Black members:
World-renowned photographer Martin Parr was accused of racism last year for writing an introductory text for a book of photographs by Italian photographer Gian Butturini that juxtaposed a photograph of a Black woman with a photograph of a caged gorilla.
Six months later, Parr later tweeted an apology:
Lead image uses a photo by Prime Cinematics.
This article was updated to note that Martin Parr apologized on Twitter. This article initially erroneously stated that Parr edited the book whereas he only wrote the introductory text.