Sabiha Çimen was born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1986. She is a self-taught photographer, focusing on Islamic culture, portraiture and still life.
Çimen graduated from Istanbul Bilgi University with a Bachelor's Degree in International Trade and Finance, and a Masters Degree in Cultural Studies. Her Master's thesis on subaltern studies, which includes her photo story titled ‘Turkey as a simulated country’, was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2019.
Çimen has worked on her project entitled Hafız: Guardians of the Quran
Çimen since 2017, traveling to five cities in Turkey to produce ninety-nine portraits on medium format film. With this project, she participated in the World Press Photo
Foundation’s Joop Swart Masterclass in 2018 and was awarded 3rd prize in PH Museum
's Women Photographers Grant.
Çimen became a Magnum
Nominee member in 2020.
Source: World Press Photo
About her project: Hafız: Guardians of the Quran
Sabiha Çimen’s project, Hafız: The Guardians of Quran, is an ongoing series of medium format portraits shot in conservative Quran boarding schools for young girls in five cities in Turkey. It shows the daily lives of the girls and their hidden emotions as they try to memorize the sacred texts while still retaining the humble dreams of any young woman their age.
“I attended Quran school with my twin sister when I was twelve years old, and with that experience I am now able to reveal a world unknown till now,”
Çimen wrote in her submission to the Smith Grant. “This story is a rarely seen glimpse into this world, normally hidden and forbidden to most others. My project is about these young women, about me and my twin, the memory of the Quran, and an investigation and portrayal of the hidden power within them acting out with small forms of resistance to find their individuality.”
The W. Eugene Smith Grant
is presented annually to photographers whose work is judged by a panel of experts to be in the best tradition of the documentary photographic practice exhibited by W. Eugene Smith during his 45-year career in photojournalism. This year, the grant was presented to five recipients with each receiving $10,000 to continue their projects. Smith Fund board member Daniella Zalcman was this year’s lead juror for the Smith Grant, along with judges Teju Cole, a photographer, critic, curator, author, and former photography critic at The New York Times Magazine
; and Yukiko Yamagata, the curatorial and deputy director of Culture and Art for the Open Society Foundation.
Source: W. Eugene Smith Memorial Fund