Posts tagged ‘Photography Prize’

June 9, 2014

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014

by Suzy Walker-Toye

Further to my previous post on the Prix Pictet study visit, I took the opportunity of being in town on a Saturday to spend the afternoon visiting the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014. Its quite interesting visiting two such different contemporary photography prize exhibitions on the same day and I really enjoyed last years (which we did as a study visit, not sure why the OCA didn’t this year).

About the prize:
The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014 is presented by The Photographers’ Gallery, London. The annual prize of £30,000 awards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format, which has significantly contributed to photography in Europe between 1 October 2012 and 30 September 2013. The winner will be announced at a special ceremony at The Photographers’ Gallery on 12 May 2014. source.

See this on vimeo here.

This year the winner is Richard Mosse and for once I’d actually seen the original exhibition for which he was nominated (at the Venice Biennale 2013, The Enclave at the Irish-via-the-Congo pavilion).

His exhibition featured photos & videos of rebel-filled forests made using military surveillance film that turns the world psychedelic pink colour. The first room of giant scale photographs were a beautiful counterpoint to the traumatising videos in the next room. Here is a quote from the curators statement leaflet I picked up there:

Death is plainly observed by the camera, which pans over twisted bodies lying on the side of the road, already bootless, looted by passersby.

Not really honeymoon material but powerful nonetheless.

From the Mapp catalogue:
Mosse documents a haunting landscape touched by appalling human tragedy in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where 5.4 million people have died of war related causes since 1998. Shot on discontinued military surveillance film, the resulting imagery registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, and renders the jungle warzone in disorienting psychedelic hues. 

See this on vimeo here.

As per usual in the Photographers Gallery there were video interviews you could watch with a headphone set. I was quite disappointed there was no interview with Richard Mosse, only this video:

See this on vimeo here.

The other nominations were all new to me.

Spanish photographer Alberto García-Alix is nominated for his publication Autorretrato/Selfportrait (La Fabrica Editorial, 2013), a book featuring black and white self-portraits which offer an insight into the artist’s life over nearly four decades. These include the upheavals at the end of Franco’s dictatorship in the early 70s through newly gained liberties in the mid-80s and into the present day. 

In the exhibition there was quite a long video presentation of the images (and some footage and voice over in spanish) and I stayed to watch most of it, it was quite atmospheric if a little depressing. The photos themselves are printed quite large, not as large as the Richard Mosse images but large enough to have some impact in a busy gallery setting. Some of the photographs are quite sexually explicit in nature (especially some in the video) so be warned, I wouldn’t take children to this. There is a small notice in the lift but I missed it until I was leaving (because the lift was full when I got there). I also enjoyed his interview (below):

See this on vimeo here.

I always seek the face of my subject, fixing his or her eyes on a point which will correspond to the eye of the spectator, so that the spectator is also observed by the image. That is the mystery of photography for me, its virtue: that is, that the image should observe the spectator.

Alberto García-Alix

I watched the video interview of American photographer Lorna Simpson before I saw the work and I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not. I think I should have viewed it then watched then viewed again like I usually do (but it was so busy that day).


She was nominated for her exhibition Lorna Simpson (Retrospective) at Jeu de Paume, Paris (2013). Simpson’s work links photography, text, video installations, most recently archival material and found objects. Emphasizing a conceptual and performative approach, she explores themes of gender, identity, culture, memory and body. She had found an archive of photographs of an unknown black women learning to pose for the camera (Hollywood style) and her work was re-exhibiting this as a body of work with photographs of herself inserted alongside. I thought that sounded really interesting and it was expect that there looked to be a few duplicates of her new images which ruined it for me. It was as if she wanted to lay it out in a certain way but didn’t have enough images and thought no one would notice if she duplicated a few, it would have been ok but there were no duplicates in the archived images, to me it just smacked of laziness. She needed to shoot new ones and not treat us like idiots.

See this on vimeo here.

Last but not least is German photographer Jochen Lempert. He is nominated for his exhibition Jochen Lempert at Hamburger Kunsthalle (2013).

Originally trained as a biologist, Lempert has been using photography since the early 1990s to study humans and the natural world. His approach is scientific and poetic as well as humorous. Always working in black and white, his work engages with a diverse range of subjects and genres, ranging from everyday views, to abstracted details.

four frogs

I had mixed feelings about this work. I loved the photograms. They were truly extraordinary, especially the “four frogs” series (above) and the one of sand which looked like static from far away but as you get closer looks sharper and sharper. However the other work and the poor presentation let this down. I know the presentation is deliberate to emphasise the actual medium of a print however it did just look like he’d laser-printed some images on cheap paper and blu-tacked them to the wall. I would have liked a proper interview with him also but you can see for yourself below:

See this on vimeo here.

The exhibition is on until 22nd June, its worth a trip if you’re in town.