In 2014, ChinaFile and the Magnum Foundation founded the Abigail Cohen Fellowship in Documentary Photography to support photographers working to address pressing social issues impacting China and its relations with the world that have not received the attention they deserve. Each year, two fellowships are given to photographers as support for their efforts to create new work.
This fellowship is supported by Betsy Z. and Edward E. Cohen and named in memory of their daughter.
This year’s jury was comprised of Kristen Lubben, Executive Director of Magnum Foundation, Emma Raynes, Director of Programs of Magnum Foundation, Susan Jakes, Editor of ChinaFile, Muyi Xiao, Director of Visuals for ChinaFile, and David Barreda, Deputy Editor of Photo and Visuals at Topic.
We received 58 applications from photographers who had been nominated by 25 experienced editors, curators, and educators from both China and other countries internationally. There was a significant increase over previous years in the number of applications from Chinese photographers.
Emma Raynes says, “We were excited to see the range of topics and photographic approaches for this year’s Abigail Cohen Fellowship. More than in past years, we are seeing documentary photographers experiment with form and content in creative ways.”
After three rounds of selection, the jury awarded this year’s Abigail Cohen Fellowship to Peng Ke and Cheng Xinhao, both from China.
Peng Ke, “Underneath the Tree Where I Buried My Childhood Pets”
Born in Changsha, Hunan province, Peng Ke moved with her parents to Shenzhen as a young child. She is interested in how urbanization and migration affect the human psyche, particularly in young children. Through her photography, Peng seeks to understand how migrant children growing up in unfamiliar cities approach their surroundings, and how they come to know unfamiliar and chaotic worlds through play.
Peng lives and works in Los Angeles and Shenzhen.
Cheng Xinhao, “Beyond the Forest: The Mang Borderland”
The Mang are a tiny ethnic group who live along the China-Vietnam border. While the majority live in Vietnam, some 800 live in China’s Yunnan province. Cheng Xinhao is at work on the second phase of an intensive 15-year study of this community that draws on archeology, anthropology, and linguistics, as well as photography. Cheng will explore how the border between the two countries affects Mang identity.
Cheng, a native of Yunnan province, earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Peking University and now works as an independent artist.