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W. Eugene Smith Talk

Artist Talk: Joseph Sywenkyj

Tuesday, September 27

6:30 pm

Aperture Gallery and Bookstore 547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor New York, NY



This event is free for students with ID and Aperture Members at the $50 level and above.

Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with the W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund, is pleased to present an artist talk with Joseph Sywenkyj. Sywenkyj, an American photographer based in Kiev, is the recipient of the 2014 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography. He will present his completed Smith Fund project along with some of his past work, which explores the Ukrainian revolution and family life over the course of sixteen years. Sywenkyj’s photographs concentrate on how the media is more concerned with geopolitics and European leaders rather than the families that are affected by war and terrorism. Sywenkyj states, “It is through stories of families who have been seriously impacted physically, mentally, and economically by the crisis that we will gain insight into how events in the country are influencing society as a whole.”


The W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography was established in 1978 following the death of W. Eugene Smith, the legendary American photo-essayist. Today, it is one of the most prestigious honors in documentary photography. Every year it recognizes a photographer whose past work and proposed project, as judged by a panel of experts, follows the tradition of Smith’s concerned photography and the dedicated compassion exhibited during his forty-five-year career. The application deadline is in early June. More information can be found at


The W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund is sponsored by Aperture Foundation as well as Anastasia Photo, American Society of Media Photographers, Brilliant, Canon, Center for Creative Photography, International Center of Photography, MediaStorm, Photo District News, Swann Galleries, School of Visual Arts, and Synergy Communications.


The Smith Talks and other programs at Aperture are supported, in part, by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Charina Endowment Fund, William Talbott Hillman Foundation, Inc., and the Board of Trustees and Members of Aperture Foundation. Additional public funds are from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Joseph Sywenkyj (b. 1978) is an American photographer specializing in reportage, portraiture, breaking news, and travel photography. In 2003, a year after graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York, he moved to Ukraine on a Fulbright Student Grant. He has worked extensively on assignment throughout Eastern Europe and Central Asia and has also worked in Africa, the Middle East, and North America. His photographs have been exhibited in numerous galleries both nationally and internationally and his work has been featured in various publications such as Bloomberg Businessweek, the New York Times, Forbes, the New Yorker, and many others. Sywenkyj is the recipient of the 2014 W. Eugene Smith Grant in Humanistic Photography and is currently the recipient of a 2014–16 Fulbright Scholar Award.



Image: Masha, 6 years old, was infected with HIV through mother to child transmission at birth. Odesa, Ukraine, 2007. Courtesy of Joseph Sywenkyj.

Artist Talk: Joseph Sywenkyj