Alex Fattal was born in Austin, Texas. He is the first of two children of Laura and Yacov Fattal. Alex moved to Boston Massachusetts where his younger brother Josh was born. He grew up in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania where he graduated from Cheltenham High School in 1997.
Alex enrolled in Duke University in 1998 where he joined an innovative interdisciplinary program, Comparative Area Studies, focusing on Latin America and Africa. The summer of 1998 he worked resettling Cuban, Bosnia and Sudanese refugees in Albuquerque, New Mexico with Summer Opportunities in Leadership (SOL) programme. In the summer of 1999 he pioneered tier two of the SOL program, coordinating the foundation of a theatre advocacy group in Langa Township outside of Cape Town. Alex then studied at Universidad de Chile in Santiago, travelling and photographing extensively throughout South America, from Patagonia to the canal handover ceremony in Panama. Alex intensified his coursework at Duke’s renown Centre for Documentary Studies. Energized by “Literacy Through Photography” a participatory photography project founded by Wendy Ewald Alex began to apply and adapt the methodology to various situations.
Leading the documentary initiative for the student group Students of the World (SOW) Alex coordinated a participatory photography project for orphaned children staying at the Kitezh commune in rural Russia. Alex then returned to the states in the Summer of 2000 to work with Aspira where he mentored Latino youth in the South Bronx and documented Aspira’s programs. Alex wrote his senior thesis “The Role of the South African Liberation Struggle” which combined with his strong academic record earned him Magna Cum Laude Honors. Alex graduated in May of 2001 and led the documentary initiative of SOW in Havana, Cuba, filming Cuba’s Jewish community and photographing the urban renewal of Havana.
Alex earned a Fulbright Grant to study visual anthropology in Bogotá at both Universidad de los Andes and Univesidad Nacional. He conducted an investigation into photojournalism of the Colombian conflict, contrasting the perspectives of Colombian and international photographers. Alex also founded a participatory photography project with children who were displaced by the conflict and living in the hilly outskirts of Bogotá. The project, Disparando Cámaras para la Paz (DCP) or Shooting Cameras for Peace, has been acclaimed within Colombia and by international audiences. It continues to expand to other sites around Colombia under the direction of a team of Colombian photographers and educators. Alex integrated DCP into The AjA Project, an NGO recently established by university friends, Shinpei Takeda and Warren Ogden.
The AjA Project:
In September of 2002, Alex became The AjA Project’s Program Director for Africa and Latin America. In addition to overseeing the consolidation and expansion of the DCP program Alex led final phase of the multimedia project “Journey”, in which refugees from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia that have been resettled in the San Diego area documented the radical transition they have recently undergone. Alex coordinated exhibitions and public relations for multiple events, dramatically raising the visibility of The AjA Project and its programmes.
Children’s Rights Centre:
In February of 2003 Alex became a Lewis Hine Documentary Fellow and took a position as documentary researcher at the Children’s Rights Centre in Durban, South Africa. Alex has helped the Children’s Rights Centre to organise its archive, to draft ethical guidelines for researchers and journalists working with children, as well as spearheading Children’s Visions and Voices: Rights and Realities in South Africa, which surveys a diversity of challenging realities facing children in each of South Africa’s nine provinces using participatory photography and oral histories. Alex oversaw all elements of the project now in the process of being developed into a book and a poster series to be used with an activity booklet for NGO’s and schools to raise awareness and advocate for Children’s Rights.