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Freedom to Create Prize

Freedom to Create Prize - Yemeni former war photographer Karim Ben Khelifa shortlisted for Freedom to Create Prize.

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Karim Ben Khelifa (above) draws on his experience and skill to create images which redefine and humanize the current conflict between Palestine and Israel.

War photographer, Karim Ben Khelifa has been shortlisted in the Main Prize category for the 2009 Freedom to Create Prize. The winners will be announced at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, on Wednesday 25th November 2009.

Press Release:

Karim Ben Khelifa, a former war photographer from Yemen currently living in New York, is shortlisted for the 2009 Freedom to Create Prize, in the Main Prize category. He is nominated alongside Aziza Brahim, a world musician from Western Sahara, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, the celebrated Iranian filmmaker, Sheenkai Alam Stanikzai, an Afghan artist, and The Kumjing Storytellers, a refugee touring women’s group from Burma. Winners for the Main, Youth and Imprisoned Artist Prize categories will be unveiled at an awards ceremony to be held at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, on Wednesday 25th November 2009.

Until two years ago, Karim had spent a decade of his life behind the lens as a war photographer. He left his home in Yemen to take photographs to change the world. However, after assignments in countless war zones and brushes with death, Karim changed direction, deciding to focus entirely on dissecting conflicts through a different means. His first assignment is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the effects of which are felt around the world.

Of his photography he writes: “It attempts to overturn the conventional assumptions surrounding the ongoing conflict by asking the fighters from the opposing sides three simple questions: who they are; who their enemy is, and why they are fighting.” Karim believes that by allowing them to explain their motives, the combatants are humanised. “The glib dismissal of the humanity of the ‘enemy’ is not so much about the limits of empathy as it is the limits of imagination. The ultimate goal of this art project is to expand the moral imagination.

Karim entered Gaza immediately after the last conflict and once in the territory had to build the trust of militia such as the Islamic Jihad and Al Qassam Brigade of Hammas, all reluctant to be photographed and interviewed in the open. He then repeated the process with the Israeli armed forces. He has plans to replicate his idea in Kashmir, Sudan and Columbia, to further investigate the concept of The Enemy.

For more information please visit the Freedom to Create website.

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