The Photographers Gallery has announced the four shortlisted contenders for the 2016 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. They are Laura El-Tantawy, Erik Kessels, Trevor Paglen and Tobias Zielony.
This year’s shortlist reflects a range of approaches and subject matters encompassing the use of videos, objects and texts. These diverse bodies of work express political and personal concerns with identity, migration, surveillance and loss at their core.
Works by the shortlisted photographers will be exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery from 16 April until 26 June 2016 and subsequently presented at the Deutsche Börse headquarters in Frankfurt/Eschborn.
The winner will be announced at a special award ceremony in 2016 during the exhibition run.
The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016 is an annual prize established by The Photographers’ Gallery, London in 1996 and in partnership with Deutsche Börse Group since 2005. The £30,000 prize rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format, which is felt to have significantly contributed to photography in Europe between 1 October 2014 and 30 September 2015.
The shortlisted artists are nominated for the following projects:
Laura El-Tantawy (b. 1980, UK/Egypt) for her self-published photobook In the Shadow of the Pyramids (2015). In images that span from 2005 to 2014, this project depicts the atmosphere and rising tensions in Cairo in the events leading to and during the January revolution in Tahrir Square (2011-13). El-Tantawy grew up between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the US, with In the Shadow of the Pyramids she explores parallel narratives of her own family’s history with the search for identity of a troubled nation. She combines old family photographs and her own lyrical witness accounts with close up portraits of protestors and streets scenes that vividly express the violence and euphoria of the crowds.
Erik Kessels (b. 1966, The Netherlands) for his exhibition Unfinished Father at Fotografia Europea, Reggio Emilia, Italy (15 May – 31 July 2015). In Unfinished FatherKessels reflects upon the fragmented realities of loss, memory and a life come undone as a result of his father’s debilitating stroke. Kessels uses his father’s unfinished restoration project of an old Fiat 500 as a representation of his current condition. He brings pieces of the unassembled body of the Topolino car into the exhibition space and presents it alongside photographs of car parts and images that were taken by his father.
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Trevor Paglen (b. 1974, USA) for his exhibition The Octopus at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (20 June – 30 August 2015). Paglen’s project aims to represent complex topics like mass surveillance, data collection, classified satellite and drone activities and the systems of power connected to them. Paglen’s installation comprise images of restricted military and government areas, skylines showing the flight tracks of passing drones, sculptural elements and research assembled in collaboration with scientist, amateur astronomers and human rights activists. Through his work Paglen demonstrates that secrets cannot be hidden from view, but that their traces and structures are visible evidence in the landscape.
Tobias Zielony (b. 1973, Germany) for The Citizen, exhibited as part of the German Pavilion presentation at the 56th Biennale of Arts, Venice, Italy (9 May – 22 November 2015). Mostly taken in Berlin and Hamburg Zielony’s photographs portray the lives and circumstances of African refugee activists living in Europe. Fleeing violence and oppression in their home countries many arrive to the West in search of freedom and security only to find themselves living as outsiders in refugee-camps without legal representation or work permits. Presented alongside the images are first person accounts, interviews and narratives published by Zielony in African newspapers and magazines and reporting on the immigrants’ experiences and journeys.
The members of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016 jury are: David Drake, Director Ffotogallery, Cardiff; Alfredo Jaar, Artist; Wim van Sinderen, Senior Curator at The Hague Museum of Photography; Anne-Marie Beckmann, Curator, Art Collection Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation and Brett Rogers, Director, The Photographers’ Gallery as the non-voting chair.
This year marks Deutsche Börse’s twelfth year as supporter of the Prize and coincides with the establishment of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, a non-profit organisaition for cultural activity focused on the collecting, exhibiting and promoting of contemporary photography.
The Foundation cements Deutsche Börse’s long-term commitment to photography, cultural enterprises and public engagement and is responsible for its extensive and ever-growing collection of contemporary photography comprising more than 1,600 works by over 100 international artists
It will continue to work with The Photographers’ Gallery to deliver the newly titled Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize.
Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, and non-voting Chair of the Jury said: The work of this year’s four nominees address some of the most urgent political and social issues of our time – from Laura El Tantawy’s moving account of the Arab Spring to Tobias Zielony’s repositioning of the European refugee crisis and Trevor Paglen’s exploration of the growing impact of military surveillance on our lives. Eric Kessel’s Unfinished Father provides a more personal narrative which examines the fragmentation of family roles and relationships in the face of a loved one’s debilitating illness. All these subjects are of great consequence and relevance today – and one which photography, as a multifarious and accessible medium, is uniquely suited to explore.
Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation said: We are delighted that the newly established Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation will continue Deutsche Börse’s long-term commitment to the Prize. This year’s shortlist once again celebrates photography’s unique position as a medium of diverse artistic expression and social engagement. This is highlighted through the nominees’ compelling use of photography in installation-led presentations and reflections on some of today’s most pressing issues.