Maja Nydal won our first theme, ‘A World of Cultures’ with her stunning image of a child playing among the ruined buildings of Bucharest. Our judge Ed Kashi described it as ‘beautiful and captivating’, full of ‘mystery and tension’.

We sat down with Maja to ask her a little more about that image and her practice as a photographic activist.

Maja – firstly, congratulations on winning our theme ‘A World of Cultures’. Can you tell us a little more about the series this image comes from, and particularly the story behind the image itself?

The Possible Playgrounds project is an ongoing project, where I’m experiencing Bucharest through the eyes of the young generation. The project visualizes their needs, dreams and fears towards their environment, in a city where their voice is almost completely missing.

The title comments on the lack of playgrounds and urban life in many areas of the city, where the young residents are pushing for informal places to meet and play. The purpose is to empower them by taking the matter into their own hands, using their imagination to intervene in the cityscape, creating images of protest and engagement. At the same time, they are taught the basics of photography, creating stories using simple materials at hand.