NEW YORK, NY and ARLES, FRANCE–(Marketwired – Jul 16, 2015) – From an amazing array of portfolios documenting important issues, and in a showdown between classic black and white imagery and contemporary color medium, The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography and Film today announced that Pablo Ernesto Piovano of Argentina has been awarded its fifth annual grant for documentary photography.

Piovano's winning project proposal The Human Cost of Agrochemicals will document the indiscriminate use of glyphosate herbicide spray on resistant genetically-modified crops in Argentina and the devastating impact on local populations. In stark black and white images, Mr. Piovano's winning portfolio depicts the powerless and most vulnerable — children and adult alike with rare birth defects, epilepsy, skin diseases and mental illness — living in the spray path.

Commenting on Piovano's work, MRO Foundation President and Founder Manuel Rivera-Ortiz said, "Reminding us that while documentary photography is real and not imagined, and while the story he tells as a medium is in fact disturbing, Pablo's work is still beautiful and affecting. As the second Argentinian awarded this grant, we congratulate him and look forward to his completing this imperative story."

Pablo Ernesto Piovano is a photojournalist based in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He has been a staff photographer for the Página/12 newspaper in Buenos Aires since 2000. Trained from a young age by his photojournalist father, he is a multi-scholarship winner and has mentored with many renowned photographers.

"I'm incredibly honored to be recognized by the foundation," said Pablo Ernesto Piovano. "As an Argentinian, this project is not just a documentary, it is a denouncement of nearly two decades of toxic poisoning and neglect. With the MROF grant, the voices of the affected will be heard."

This year's esteemed jury included:

  • Fariba Farshad – Founder of Photo London and Director of Candlestar Ltd, London
  • Agnès de Gouvion Saint-Cyr – Curator and photography consultant, Paris
  • Francis Hodgson – Photography Critic for the Financial Times, London
  • Azu Nwagbogu – Founder and Director of African Artists' Foundation, Lagos
  • Enrico Stefanelli – Founder and Director of Photolux Festival, Lucca

"It's a horrific story of great importance to us all, very properly and very well told," declared jurist Francis Hodgson, Photography Critic for the Financial Times. "The pictures are structured and built with harmonic proportions, an outer respect for the subject matter, and all of those old virtues about tones, and colors, and balance, absolutely nicely held."

Sven Zellner of Germany was chosen for Honorable Mention by the jury for his portfolioChildhood in Romania. Following a poor family with no government support, Zellner's slice-of-life color portfolio intimately shows the impact of economic collapse.

Taking place during Les Rencontres d'Arles, the selection was held at the foundation's new Arles exhibition space located in the 17th century Hotel Blain. Grand opening events were highlighted with this year's presentation of the MRO Foundation Prize to Chinese photographer Mo Yi. A retrospective of his work is part of the inaugural exhibit Eyewitnessnow on display in Arles.

"Mo Yi is not only the obvious choice as our 2015 MRO Foundation Prize recipient for the incredible body of work and years of sacrifice he has put forth as a photographer in China, but also for the role model that he becomes to over a billion people," commented Manuel Rivera-Ortiz.

Lucien Clergue — renowned photographer and artist, Rencontres d'Arles founder, friend and advisor — was awarded the MRO Foundation Prize award posthumously.

Manuel Rivera-Ortiz added, "Now in Arles for our fifth consecutive year, we begin a new chapter with solo exhibitions in two terrific spaces. The works of all of these artists are inspired by Lucien's legacy and attest to our resolve to add the unseen and unheard millions to the equation."

The Manuel Rivera-Ortiz Foundation for Documentary Photography & Film is a non-profit organization committed to positive social discourse in under-represented communities throughout the world. For additional information on the Foundation, please visit