Matilde Simas explores the capacity of photography to generate social change, activate affect, and empower storytelling. Her work focuses on issues of dignity and human rights around the world, illuminating the enduring strength of victims, survivors, people affected by trauma, and the state of endangered ecosystems. In her work, the body and the landscape become subjects of elaborate narratives, but she actively seeks to allow her subjects agency – a way to impact the story and reclaim truth; represent their endurance and give resilience a voice.
Matilde’s work on human trafficking has been widely exhibited as part of the UNODC - United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) campaigns during “World Day against Trafficking in Persons.”
Her series, Faces Behind Atrocity is an award-winning series which documents through portraiture the experience of surviving human trafficking, as well as the journey to healing and recovery. Compelling and thematically and aesthetically original, the pictures demonstrate Matilde’s ability to control composition and image execution, including some interesting photographic qualities, such as efficient lighting, intriguing subject matter, and alluring aesthetics. This is essential, in her view: it activates emotion, which is the switch for taking action.
In 2017 Matilde founded Capture Humanity, an artistic collaborative organization, in which she is lead photographer and director. The aim is to document humanitarian groups that assist women, children, marginalized communities, and conservation efforts. Patience, commitment, and integrity are the core of their effort to inspire greater creative and social consciousness.
She has received numerous awards for her work, including the 2018 and 2017 Lucie Foundation International Photography Award in the Social Cause category. Her fine art prints are part of numerous private and corporate collections, including the African Union, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the International Organization for Migration (UN Migration). While her photos predominantly appear in humanitarian organization collateral, her images have also been featured in publications such as The Guardian, PETRIe Inventory, and Professional Photographer Magazine.
Matilde received a BA in Liberal Arts and Science from Suffolk University and is currently studying Social Justice at Harvard University.
She is a contributing artist at Artworks for Freedom, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC which raises awareness about modern day slavery and human trafficking and Arts to End Slavery Exhibition in Nairobi, Kenya. Arts to End Slavery (A2ES) is an awareness raising art project that aims to bring attention to human trafficking in Kenya. It was developed and launched in 2015 by a Nairobi based NGO, Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART) The A2ES exhibition.
In 2019, Simas published a cookbook titled Taste of Freedom partnering with New York-based organization Mentari, which mentors and empowers trafficking survivors to reintegrate into the community through a culinary arts program. The intention behind the cookbook is to create awareness about human trafficking by interweaving success stories and quotes about what freedom means to each of the Mentari clients.
Currently she is exhibiting in the LE PRIX DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE DE PARIS (PX3) “State of the World” 2019 Curator, Anna Sansom, to be exhibited at the annual Paris Photo Prize exhibition this July. After the Paris exhibition, "State of the World" will travel to multiple destinations around the world, beginning with Taiwan in August, and more to come.
Exhibition at the Espace Beaurepaire (Paris 75010), from Tuesday 9th till Sunday 14th of July, 2019.
With the “State of the World”, the goal is to bring uncensored news, directly from photographers witnessing events with the guarantee that they are not manipulated by the mainstream media or sensationalized for profit.
2019 PX3 "State of the World" Winner | Maasai Culture: Female Genital Mutilation
2019 International Color Awards HM Wildlife | Male orangutan sits in a tree with soulful eyes
2019 International Color Awards HM Portrait | Growing up Female in Maasai Society
2018 Tokyo International Foto Award Bronze People/ Portraiture
2018 Tokyo International Foto Award Bronze Book/ People
2018 International Photographer Award Lucie Foundation Social Event 1st place
2018 International Photographer Award Lucie Foundation Honorable Mention Award Culture/Traditions
2018 PRIX DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE PARIS (PX3) Honorable Mention Award Portraiture/Children
2018 Photographers Without Borders Depth of Field Award
2017 Tokyo International Foto Award Bronze Book/ People
2017 International Photographer Award Lucie Foundation Social Event 2nd place
2017 Black and White Magazine Portfolio Award Winner