Trump's reform, aimed at blocking immigration from seven primarily Muslim countries, divided the public and showed how nations were gradually withdrawing into themselves. Last January, the Muslim ban (or travel ban) decree stopped people from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US.
Demonstrations mushroomed all around the country to protest this discrimination against Muslims, considered as "potential terrorists" by the POTUS. This decree was later thrown out by the courts.
Nonetheless, after being reworded and having Iraq dropped from the list, the monstrous resolution officially went into effect last June. The only thing that changed was that it is not a blanket ban anymore, but targeted "only" people who don't have a "valid link" with America or American residents. Sigh...
Now that we are reaching the end of Trump's first year as president, we still remember the case of Palestinian photographer Eman Mohammed, living in Washington with her family, who couldn't participate in the World Press Photo 2017 in Amsterdam because she couldn't be sure she'd be able to go back to the US, even though her native country doesn't figure on this ban list (Palestine is not recognised as a bona fide country by the USA but as an occupied territory).
Such shocking stories are legion. Take for instance Iranian director Asghar Farhadi – he couldn't travel to the 2017 Oscars ceremony although his movie, The Salesman, was nominated. Ironically, he won the Best Foreign Language Film Award.
Against this American lack of respect for the Arab world, the loss of freedom, the arbitrary labeling people according to their origins and the growing stigmatization of people of Arab and/or Muslim denomination in the West, the 3K Project was born.
Contrary to the Biennial of contemporary Arab world photography that took place in Paris in September, the 3K Project is politically engaged and deals with more than just art. It is a direct answer to the Muslim Ban.
Showcasing unknown photographers
The 3K Project is inviting photographers from the seven banned countries, but also American photographers wanting to express their stance against the Muslim Ban, to send them their work. Participants have to send ten images depicting their day to day life in these countries, with only one restriction: the images must be taken at a maximum of three kilometers from their place of residence (hence the name, 3K, for 3 kilometers).
The aim of this competition is to offer a new vision of the Arab world, away from the clichés and prejudices, while confronting the Western worldview: these images will show both the differences and the similarities between the banned countries and the USA:
"The 3K Project raises questions about freedom and identity and the ability photography has to change people’s perceptions. This creative activism also draws attention to the commonalities people from Los Angeles and Mogadishu may share.
Despite the 15,000 kilometers that separate them, individuals face the same challenges for a better life for themselves and for their children.
The goal of this 3km perimeter is to reveal the daily reality of photographers living in these affected parts of the world. The way they have breakfast, where they sleep, how they bring their children to school or how they spend their day – aspects of a routine we can all relate to and thus empathize with. It also aims at deconstructing stereotypes and misconceptions often spread by mass media. 'The other' may not be so different than us after all."
This competition is, of course, free and open to anyone living either in the US or in one of the banned countries. On December 15, 2017, the winner will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize, but that's not all:
"Winning and shortlisted photographers will be included in a global press campaign, featured across the Lucie Foundation website and exhibited at cultural organizations and festivals across the Middle East and USA (including PhotoNola and Prospect New Orleans, and the 10th Anniversary Edition of MOPLA – Month of Photography of Los Angeles)."
As you can see, the first photos received promise a great competition, displaying a well-defined style and narrative. We want more of this stuff, please.
The 3K Project is both a collaborative and political event, aimed at promoting so far hidden talents, photographers we never hear about, who are not represented by any gallery or never had a book published, but nonetheless represent the future of contemporary Arab photography.
Behind this project, we find the Lucie Foundation, a voluntary organization based in Los Angeles whose mission is to "Honor Master Photographers, Discover and Cultivate Emerging Talent and Promote the Appreciation of Photography Worldwide". There is also Hossein Farmani, gallery owner and founder of the project and Aline Deschamps, photographer and head of project, who states:
"The concept of the 3K project emerged just after Trump's Executive Order 13769 earlier this year. We were all shocked by this legislation, but the project started a bit on a joke with Hossein Farmani.
We thought: Since the USA doesn't want Iranians, Yemenis, Soudanese etc. on its territory, well, we are gonna go to these banned countries and set up an exhibition there ! It was a stance against the American policy: Because you don't want them, we are going at them (even though we'll never be able to set foot on American soil again).
More seriously, we wanted to find a response to this absurd ban : a federating speech which could stand against prejudices. To me, there is no better way to deconstruct stereotypes than to let the subject talk. In the case of the 3k project, it is the local citizen-photographer who tells the story of his daily life in images, not Foxnews. This project aims at breaking stereotypes often spread by mass media.
Also, for some of these banned countries, it is always pictures of western photographers which reach us. The goal of the 3K project is to reverse this tendency and look at the country from the inside point of view of the local participant."
Supporting the Lucie Foundation are embassadors Tammy Mercure (USA), Majid Saeedi (Iran), Younes Mohammad (Iraq), Loubna Mrie (Syria), Ala Kheir (Sudan) et Amira Al-Sharif (Yemen). Participants are also encouraged to promote the project in their own country, to get a maximum of people taking part. We hope this project will open everybody's eyes to how discriminatory, illegitimate and abusive the Muslim Ban is.