Lens Culture is pleased to present a series of photographs from the winners and shortlisted photographers in this annual prize for Human Rights photography. We interviewed the founder of the Award, Matthieu Rytz, via email. Here is an edited version of our interview:

What is the idea behind the AnthropoGraphia Award for Human Rights?

The aim of AnthropoGraphia is to open new exhibition opportunities for engaged photographers who commit themselves to presenting relevant human rights issues through visual storytelling.

AnthropoGraphia seeks to abolish disciplinary borders. Why should
photojournalists and artists be seen in different categories? The methodology may be different but ultimately it is the narrative that must come first.

How did you choose the winner
for 2011?

The winner, Christian Vium, presents us with a inspiring example of visual storytelling in his essay “Clandestine”. He gives us more than just information, because when we look at his images we become lost somewhere in the Mauritanian Sahara, we feel the
loneliness, we feel the distress of those men and women crossing countries and hoping to find a better life.

The aim of an artist is to express himself through photography; the aim of a
photojournalist is to give truthful information using photography as the medium. I think that the visual storyteller finds their way between art and information, and Christian Vium gives us the perfect example of this.

What do you hope for as the outcome of the AnthropoGraphia Award for Human Rights? Do you wish to promote the work of the winning photographer, or is it more about drawing attention to a particular issue?

There are two different outcomes. One is for the public, the other one is for the photographic community.

On the one hand, we wish to reach the widest possible public by targeting shopping malls or libraries for exhibitions, but at the same time, we work within the photography community by exhibiting the works in galleries and photo festivals.

In the curatorial process we bring forward issues relating to our contemporary world by selecting works that challenge and engage our society. I believe that images open up spaces that allow us to witness abuses forgotten by the media. And it is through this process of witnessing that we provide the public an opportunity to dialogue, learn, and take action on human rights issues.

Mattheiu Rytz is the Founder of AnthropoGraphia. AnthropoGraphia is a volunteer-run non-profit organization. Jim Casper, editor of Lens Culture, serves on the Advisory Board of AnthropoGraphia.

Please visit anthropographia.org for more information about each of these compelling stories.