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  • Writer's pictureАнђела Петровски

Interview with Bertan Selim - Founder of VID Foundation for photography

Photo of Bertan by: Omar Imam

''Photography has deepened my understanding of the World.''

Bertan Selim

Hello Bertan! It is so lovely to have You here in the first Balkanium interview!

Thank you for having me here.

Application for VID grant 2024 is open, congratulations!

Im sure You will have a lot of applications. What are some specific subject areas that You and Your team would like to see in applied projects?

Yes, we are all very excited at the VID Foundation that we can do this Open Call again for the third time.

We are looking for themes that are relevant to the photographers and artists who are applying. We are also looking for themes that are surprising and perhaps even unknown to many others. So in short we are looking for well-developed themes and a personal connection of the theme with the applicant.

Have You ever tried Yourself in photography and if You did, what inspired You the most?

I never worked as a photographer. But for over a decade I have been very inspired by image-based practices. I have always been drawn to photography coming from outside of the usual (Western) centers in the World. Photography has deepened my understanding of the World.

Marija Mandić - VID Grant winner 2021.

Tell us how did You come to the idea to create VID and why the focus is on photography?

The idea took a while to ripen. About 3/4 years in face. I always wanted to set something up around photography. This was always the basis of the idea. I suppose VID Foundation is a complete emulation of who I am and what my professional experience has been. I wanted to link it to my own background and life journey without setting up a family Foundation- or a Foundation with my name as its title. For those interested in the whole story: you can read the full story on our website.

Even though You had sensitive experiences in the country You were born, You stayed attached to it, and this region. What are the changes that You deeply want to see in the region's future?

I think everyone born into a system that went through a significant transition has a very complex relationship with their country. It is not an easy or always pleasant relationship. Although I have lived in different places throughout my life - I feel that deep down I am fundamentally always attached and attracted to the Balkans.

In terms of change, I would like to see people who are like me can have a kinder more accepting childhood and growing up in the region. Without feeling like they need to hide or conform.

I would like to see more exchange and cooperation between people who feel different in the region. But also artists and photographers from the region who are doing work that has distinct social value. Ultimately I would like to see a more accepting and respectful society for the young people who live in this region.

Matej Jurčević - VID Grant winner 2021.

Vera Hadzhiyska - VID Grant winner 2021.

What inspires You in the Balkans in meaning, what is a positive and strong side of this region?

I think the people: some of the most brilliantly talented and smart people who are the best Ambassadors of the region within the region itself but also worldwide. In this sense, I think it is the incredibly brave young people in the region who dare to stand up to conservative thinking and oppressive social tendencies. Especially those who come from the many different minorities in the region who unfortunately still experience massive discrimination and hardship.

We know Susan Sontags saying ’’ Photography is a weapon’’. Do You think photography and young photographers have the power to at least ’’put a brick in the wall” to the brighter future of the Balkans and how?

Yes absolutely. Otherwise, I would have not started VID Foundation. Young photographers make their voices and visual language heard. This is the best form of protest and making a difference. Telling your own story without being afraid and having institutions that support you in this.

Gerta Xhaferaj - VID Grant winner 2022.

Mitar Simikić - VID Grant winner 2022.

Let's help a bit with the applicators for the grant. Are some themes more desired than others?

No. It is all about how you present your project and the intellectual argumentation you give. To show the jury that you have thought about the theme. And why you are the best person to tell this story.

Many photographers have a problem expressing themselves with writing. What is Your advice, on how to write a project for VID Grant? Or any grant. To focus on the theory, or to also have a plan for how they will realize the project step by step?

It might be helpful to ask someone to support you with the writing. Or to read and check if what you have written is clear and makes sense.

It’s always good to show the reader that you have thought in detail about the project and how you will realize it. But also leaving space to name some of the honest doubts/worries/concerns you might have.

With the grant, what else are the winners getting? Some kind of mentorship through the process?

Yes with the VID Grant, the winners get an extensive mentorship and feedback for a duration of 6/7 months. There is one key mentor who is an expert from the photo industry who works closely with the VID Grant winner. But next to this, We invite several guest speakers to join us and give their feedback on the projects and present their own work. The purpose of the mentorship is to create community but also to network the VID Grant winners to a wider, established international photo circuit.

Additionally we also regularly come together with the VID Grant winners from the previous years. So we start to create a strong community of amazing photographers who are doing great and important work in the Balkans.

Vladimir Živojinović - VID Grant winner 2022.

Zsuzsánna Fodor - VID Grant winner 2022.

VID Foundation is a powerful organization that You have built Yourself.

What are Your desires for VID in the future, how do You see it and what do You need to accomplish that?

Thank you for saying that. It really means a lot. We realize each year that there are many more incredibly talented photographers than we can support. The desire is that VID Foundation is better known beyond just the photo community and that there is a deeper social rooting for the work which is being supported by the Foundation.

As a foundation, we believe that partnerships and collaboration are a great way to accelerate and amplify our work. We actively look for more financial support for our work but also for new partnerships to expand the work of the VID Foundation so as to make more opportunities possible for emerging photographers from the Balkans.

In the end, what is Your advice for young photographers and journalists of the Balkans? How to keep ’’fighting’’ with the circumstances we have? This means financial situation, lack of motivation that is following, prejudices, and maybe lack of faith in change. This is understandable but may be necessary in every aspect of life. What would You advise as a first step?

It’s a good question but also difficult to answer in one go. Every struggle is overcome easier when you know you are not alone. My recommendation is to connect to people around you. Reach out to someone you admire and see what can you do together. How can you help each other... Always ask for help if you know you can’t do it alone.

13. Thank You Bertan!

Thank you for having me!

Guest: Bertan Selim

Interview author: Anđela Petrovski


Zdravo, Bertane! Velika mi je čast da Vas intervjuišem za prvi intervju za Balkanium!

Hvala vam što ste me pozvali!

Prijava za VID Grant 2024. je otvorena, čestitamo!

Sigurna sam da ćete imati mnogo aplikacija. Koje su neke specifične oblasti koje biste Vi i Vaš tim želeli da vidite u prijavljenim projektima?

Da, svi smo veoma uzbuđeni u VID fondaciji što možemo da ponovimo ovaj poziv po treći put. Tražimo teme koje su relevantne za fotografe i umetnike koji se prijavljuju. Takođe, tražimo teme koje su iznenađujuće, a možda čak i nepoznate mnogima. Dakle, ukratko, tražimo dobro razvijene teme i ličnu vezu teme sa autorom.

Da li ste se ikada isprobali u fotografiji i ako jeste, šta Vas je najviše inspirisalo?

Nikada nisam radio kao fotograf. Ali više od jedne decenije sam bio veoma inspirisan vizuelnim praksama. Uvek me je privlačila fotografija koja dolazi izvan uobičajenih (zapadnih) centara u svetu. Fotografija je produbila moje razumevanje sveta.

Marija Mandić - VID Grant winner 2021.

Recite nam kako ste došli na ideju da kreirate VID i zašto je fokus na fotografiji?

Ideji je trebalo neko vreme da sazri. Oko 3/4 godine u cugu. Uvek sam želeo da osnujem nešto oko fotografije. Ona je uvek bila osnova ideje. Pretpostavljam da je VID fondacija potpuna ekspresija onoga ko sam ja i kakvo je moje profesionalno iskustvo. Želeo sam da to povežem sa svojim poreklom i životnim putovanjem bez osnivanja porodične fondacije - ili fondacije sa svojim imenom kao naslovom. Za one koji su zainteresovani za celu priču: celu priču možete pročitati na našoj veb stranici.

Iako ste imali osetljiva iskustva u zemlji u kojoj ste rođeni, ostali ste vezani za nju i ovaj kraj. Koje su promene koje duboko želite da vidite u budućnosti regiona?

Mislim da svako rođen u sistemu koji je prošao kroz značajnu tranziciju ima veoma složen odnos sa svojom zemljom. To nije lak ili uvek prijatan odnos. Iako sam tokom svog života živeo na različitim mestima – osećam da sam duboko u sebi uvek vezan za Balkan.

Što se tiče promena, voleo bih da ljudi koji su poput mene mogu imati ljubaznije i bolje prihvaćeno detinjstvo i odrastanje u regionu. Bez osećaja da treba da se sakriju ili prilagode.

Voleo bih da vidim više razmene i saradnje između ljudi koji se osećaju drugačije u regionu. Ali i umetnici i fotografi iz regiona koji rade posao, koji ima izrazitu društvenu vrednost. Na kraju, želeo bih da vidim društvo koje prihvata i poštuje mlade ljude koji žive u ovom region.

Matej Jurčević - VID Grant winner 2021.

Vera Hadzhiyska - VID Grant winner 2021.

Šta Vas inspiriše na Balkanu najviše, koja je pozitivna i jaka strana ovog regiona?

Mislim da su ljudi: odevde su neki od najbriljantnijih i najpametnijih ljudi koji su najbolji ambasadori regiona u samom regionu ali i širom sveta. U tom smislu, mislim da su neverovatno hrabri mladi ljudi u regionu ti koji se usuđuju da se suprotstave konzervativnom mišljenju i opresivnim društvenim tendencijama. Naročito oni koji dolaze iz mnogih različitih manjina u regionu koji nažalost i dalje doživljavaju ogromnu diskriminaciju i teškoće.

Znamo da Suzan Sontag kaže „Fotografija je oružje“. Da li mislite da fotografija i mladi fotografi imaju moć da bar „stave ciglu u zid“ svetlijoj budućnosti Balkana i kako?

Da apsolutno. Inače, ne bih pokrenuo VID fondaciju. Mladi fotografi šire svoj glas kroz vizuelni jezik. Ovo je najbolji oblik protesta i pravljenja razlike. Pričati svoju priču bez straha i imati institucije koje te podržavaju u tome.

Gerta Xhaferaj - VID Grant winner 2022.

Mitar Simikić - VID Grant winner 2022.

Pomozimo malo oko aplikantima za grant. Da li su neke teme poželjnije od drugih?

Ne. Sve je u tome kako predstavljate svoj projekat i intelektualnoj argumentaciji koju dajete. Da pokažete žiriju da ste razmišljali o temi. I zašto ste vi najbolja osoba za ispričati ovu priču.

Mnogi fotografi imaju problem da se izraze pisanjem. Koji je Vaš savet, kako napisati projekat za VID Grant? Ili bilo koji grant. Da se ​​fokusiraju na teoriju, ili da takođe imaju plan kako će realizovati projekat korak po korak?

Možda bi bilo od pomoći da zamolite nekoga da vas podrži u pisanju. Ili da pročitaš i proveriš da li je to što si napisao jasno i ima smisla.

Uvek je dobro pokazati čitaocu da ste detaljno razmišljali o projektu i kako ćete ga realizovati. Ali takođe ostavljajući prostor da navedete neke od iskrenih sumnji/briga/briga koje možda imate.

Uz grant, šta još dobijaju pobednici? Neka vrsta mentorstva kroz proces?

Da, uz VID grant, pobednici dobijaju opsežno mentorstvo i povratne informacije u trajanju od 6-7 meseci. Postoji jedan glavni mentor koji je stručnjak iz foto industrije koji radi intenzivno sa dobitnikom VID granta. Ali pored ovoga, pozivamo nekoliko gostujućih govornika da nam se pridruže i daju svoje mišljenje o projektima i da predstave svoj rad. Svrha mentorstva je stvaranje zajednice, ali i umrežavanje dobitnika VID granta u širi, uspostavljeni međunarodni krug fotografija.

Pored toga, redovno se sastajemo i sa dobitnicima VID grantova iz prethodnih godina. Tako počinjemo da stvaramo snažnu zajednicu neverovatnih fotografa koji rade veliki i važan posao na Balkanu.

Vladimir Živojinović - VID Grant winner 2022.

Zsuzsánna Fodor - VID Grant winner 2022.

VID fondacija je moćna organizacija koju ste Vi sami izgradili.

Koje su Vaše želje za VID u budućnosti, kako ga vidite i šta Vam je potrebno da to postignete?

Hvala vam što ste to rekli. To zaista mnogo znači. Svake godine shvatamo da postoji mnogo više neverovatno talentovanih fotografa nego što možemo da podržimo. Želja je da VID fondacija bude poznatija izvan samo foto zajednice i da postoji dublja društvena ukorenjenost za rad koji Fondacija podržava.

Kao osnova, verujemo da su partnerstva i saradnja odličan način da ubrzamo i pojačamo naš rad. Aktivno tražimo veću finansijsku podršku za naš rad, ali i nova partnerstva kako bismo proširili rad VID fondacije kako bismo omogućili više mogućnosti za nove fotografe sa Balkana.

Za kraj, koji je Vaš savet mladim fotografima i novinarima Balkana? Kako se nastaviti 'boriti' sa okolnostima koje imamo? To znači finansijska situacija, nedostatak motivacije, predrasude i možda nedostatak vere u promene. Što je razumljivo, ali možda nam malo vere treba u nekom aspektu života. Šta biste savetovali kao prvi korak?

To je dobro pitanje, ali je takođe teško odgovoriti u jednom potezu. Svaka borba se lakše prevazilazi kada znaš da nisi sam. Moja preporuka je da se povežete sa ljudima oko sebe. Obratite se nekome kome se divite i vidite šta možete da uradite zajedno. Kako možete da pomognete jedni drugima.. Uvek tražite pomoć ako znate da to ne možete sami.

Hvala Bertane!

Hvala što ste me pozvali!

Interview author: Anđela Petrovski


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