Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2019 Nominee: Arwed Messmer

Arwed Messmer (b.1964, Germany) has been nominated for his exhibition RAF – No Evidence / Kein Beweis (ZEPHYR|Raum für Fotografie, Mannheim, 9 September – 5 November 2017).

This comprehensive body of work reflects on the trajectory of the Red Army Faction (RAF) also referred to as the Baader-Meinhof Group. A far-left extremist organisation, it was formed in 1970 and engaged in a series of violent terrorist attacks in Germany over the course of three decades. 

Focusing on the period 1967 to 1977, Messmer set out to chart and consider the group’s involvement in such events as the student protests of 1968 to the violent ‘German Autumn’ of 1977. The resulting project draws on a diversity of source materials from various state archives, including an extensive collection of investigative, forensic and documentary photographs ranging from the mundane to the surreal.

By repurposing and recontextualising the tools and materials commonly used in police investigations and crime-scene reconstructions, Messmer’s ‘narrative’ examines how images once used to collect evidence in criminal cases can now provide a different insight into our understanding of history.

The Prize

The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is an annual award established by The Photographers’ Gallery, London, in 1997 and in partnership with the Deutsche Börse Group since 2005 to identify and support talent, excellence and innovation. In 2016 the prize was renamed to reflect its new position within the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, a specifically established non-profit organisation focused on the collecting, exhibiting and promoting of contemporary photography.

The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced at a special award ceremony held at The Photographers’ Gallery on 16 May 2019. 

The 2019 Jury

The members of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2019 jury are Sunil Gupta, artist, writer, activist and curator; Diane Dufour, Director of Le Bal, Paris;  Felix Hoffmann, Chief Curator at C/O Berlin; Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, Frankfurt; Brett Rogers, Director, The Photographers’ Gallery, London, continues as the non-voting chair.