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Magnum Agency announces new president: Cristina de Middel

The founding of Magnum Photos is said to have taken place in New York, when Robert Capa opened a double-sized champagne bottle to commemorate the occasion while having lunch at the Museum of Modern Art in 1947.

And 75 years later, Magnum’s following steps were taken in New York, where photographers, employees, and visitors gathered to commemorate the occasion with a number of live activities, including talks, parties, movie screenings, and book fairs.

Last weekend marked the conclusion of the eight-day course, which coincided with Magnum’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), during which Cristina de Middel, one of the three newly elected members, stepped up to succeed Olivia Arthur as president.

De Middel first joined Magnum as a nominee in 2017, then in 2019 he was made an associate. After working for ten years as a photojournalist, she first gained widespread recognition in 2012 with the publication of her second book, The Afronauts, which became an instant hit. She went on to publish nine books and exhibit her work in galleries and museums all around the world, including the Museo del Prado, Perth Center for Photography, Chobi Mela Festival, and Rencontres d’Arles.

“I am, of course, honored and also conscious of the responsibility,” says de Middel. “I have never been a president of anything before, but if hard work and respect for the role and the legacy of Magnum is what it takes, then I should be fine. I hope that I can continue the great work that the previous presidents have done, and that I manage to contribute with new ideas and enthusiasm for the group.”

Arthur, who has seen Magnum through a turbulent period, becoming president in 2020, during the pandemic, commented: “It has been an honor to serve the organization that I love as its president for the past two years and to be there as we celebrated our 75th anniversary. I am also delighted to hand the baton over to someone who I know will continue the mission to lead us with her energy and thoughtfulness. I am excited to see the next years unfold for the future of Magnum.”

The agency’s three locations in Paris, London, and New York alternately host the AGM, which was presided over by Arthur and Magnum CEO Caitlin Hughes. During a two-day meeting at the Alliance Française French Institute, photographers and staff addressed business, the agency’s future aims, and potential new members.

Magnum has an organized procedure for integrating new members because it is an international photographic cooperative owned by its photographer-members. Photographers initially join the organization as nominees, move on to become associates, and then are finally admitted as full, lifelong members of the Magnum collective.

There were no new nominees this year, but three photographers—including de Middel—moved to full membership and another three from nominee to associate status.

Cristina de Middel becomes a member

Emin Özmen becomes a member

Lindokuhle Sobekwa becomes a member

Sabiha Çimen becomes an associate

Yael Martínez becomes an associate

Rafal Milach, Gregory Halpern, and Lua Ribeira remain associates for another year. Zied Ben Romdhane and Khalik Allah remain nominees.

The 75th anniversary program, with the theme of “In Dialogue,” lasts the entire year of 2022. After events at Photo London in May and the world premiere of Magnum Photos 75 years at f/est Amarante in northern Portugal, it all started with retrospectives of Susan Meiselas and Bieke Depoorter at C/O Berlin (on view through September 9th).

A series of events in New York were held to continue the celebrations, starting on June 18 with a book fair at the International Center of Photography featuring presentations by photographers such Alec Soth, Susan Meiselas, and Jim Goldberg. A panel discussion titled “Seeing Ukraine” featuring Magnum photographers Alex Majoli and Rafa Milach as well as Fred Ritchin and Ira Lupu, who collaborated to produce the recent exhibition In Ukraine, concluded the event. Two nights of short film screenings, the first at the Florence Gould Hall of the French Institute Alliance Française and the second at the Bronx Documentary Centre, where Magnum photographer Peter van Agtmael was exhibiting his exhibition Look at the USA, served as the culmination of the New York events.

Magnum’s anniversary program continues throughout 2022 with events and exhibitions coming in Arles, Berlin and Paris.

“We hope lots of people will join us in conversation at these different events around the world,” says Caitlin Hughes, CEO of Magnum Photos. “Our 75th anniversary is the stage for critical conversation about the world we live in, the changing role of documentary photography, and the future we shape with contributions to arts and culture.”