Press Release: Bar-Tur Photobook Award 2017: The New Colonists by Monica Alcazar-Duarte

Press release: 25 October 2017

“Mars has become a kind of mythic arena onto which we have projected our Earthly hopes and fears” –Carl Sagan, Planetary Scientist, 1980

The Photographers’ Gallery, in collaboration with publisher Bemojake, and  Amnon and Armon Bar-Tur, are delighted to announce  the  multimedia publication launch of The New Colonists by Mexican-British photographer, Monica Alcazar-Duarte.

Monica Alcazar-Duarte is the third winner of the Gallery’s Photobook Award, a significant prize, which launched in 2015 and offers an emerging photographer the opportunity to work with an independent publisher to produce their  first book.

The New Colonists, a project in three parts, begins by presenting the uncanny suburban town of Mars in Pennsylvania, USA. Steeped in midnight tones, her quotidian documentations of gas stations, football fields and fast food joints transport viewers to a time, place and feeling of all American life, but more importantly, human life. The work is imbued with a sense of western normality - whilst hinting to an otherworldly undertone beyond these images.

Since 1976, when the Viking 1 lander touched down on Mars and recorded the first photographic image of its surface, photography has played a key role in our exploration of the planet, and the other worlds of the Solar System. It is photography that has largely shaped and defined these distant globes in our imaginations, transforming them into real places that we might one day hope to visit or even go to live. Using this as a point of departure, The New Colonists uses photography to complete the circle, turning the camera back to view the inhabitants of Earth, just as we are beginning to prepare for an interplanetary journey.

Interrupting the quietness of small town America captured in the book are 5 additional sequences of images, which are inserted into this suburban narrative, chronicling the research and individual scientists who are attempting to make colonising the red planet a reality.

Placed at key intersections in the book, Alcazar-Duarte’s contrasting documentary images capture everything from the top space travel technology  in the European Space Agency, to the terrestrial ‘Mars Yards’, where robotic rovers  are  put  through  their  paces  in  artificial  landscapes  of  rock  and sand.

Meanwhile, would-be astronauts are tested against the rigours of a future Mars mission, confined for months at a time to enclosed habitats in inhospitable places such as polar deserts, Hawaiian lava fields, or even an industrial estate outside Moscow.

These efforts take place in the most down-to-Earth of locations and circumstances as well as the most sophisticated, but all of these scientists are, or will be, leading the construction of a new future in a far land.

As Dr Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at The Royal Observatory Greenwich and author of the book’s essay, states:

“Alcazar-Duarte’s camera is embedded within the world that she chronicles but by juxtaposing the hi-tech environment of space agencies and planetary science laboratories with everyday life in the town of Mars, Pennsylvania she evokes the same visual complexity and richness as H G Wells’ water drop, teeming with closely observed life.”

The third component of the book consists of an “Augmented Reality Portal”. Using an app designed by Paul Ferragut, readers are invited to search for and discover embedded footage and sound within the book’s pages. Through this ‘portal’ viewers encounter a new knowledge. The videos feature 3-D animations of spy satellites and space colonies by Levan Tozashvili as well as narration from Dr Ian Crawford, Professor of Planetary Science and Astrobiology at Birkbeck. Within this interview Crawford presents his ideas on Space colonisation. And the notions of “space law” and “space ethics”.

The New Colonists celebrates the zeal, creativity and resilience of the people behind the initial efforts our society is making towards this next phase in History. It encourages us to look to the far future with eyes wide open, with an imperative need to resolve legal loopholes, allowing space exploration to proceed in a peaceful and balanced way.

The New Colonists will be published on 24 November 2017. Priced at £30 it will     be available to purchase from The Photographers’ Gallery, Bemojake and selected UK and international bookshops.


Press information:

For further press information and image requests please contact:
Grace O’Connor at Margaret on +44 (0) 20 7739 8203 or email

The Bar Tur Photobook Award
Established in 2014 the Bar Tur Photobook Award is a partnership between The  Photographers’ Gallery and entrepreneurs and philanthropists Amnon and Armon Bar-Tur. The award is a three year initiative which offers an emerging photographer the chance to publish their first book with The Photographers’ Gallery and a different UK-based independent publisher each year. The Award highlights the Gallery’s recognition of artist books as a primary creative force in contemporary photographic practices as well as its ongoing commitment to nurturing new talents. Submissions are judged by a panel of experts and are open to all artists who have not yet published a book, with the exception of self-published titles. Applicants must either be currently studying for, or  have graduated from, a UK-based BA or MA visual arts course within the last five years. The  winner receives a publishing deal to the value of £20,000 with four runners-up also receiving £1,000 each towards the realisation of their proposed photobook project.

This Award was established with the generous support of the Bar-Tur family in memory of late wife and mother, the British artist Ann Lesley Bar-Tur (1947-1984).
Monica Alcazar-Duarte
Originally from Mexico, Monica lives and works in the UK. She studied Film-making, Performance Design and Documentary Photography. Her work was acquired in 2014 for the artists collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Yale University Gallery, and the Joan Flasch Collection at the Arts Institue of Chicago. Her work has been exhibited at Format Festival, Les Recontres D’Arles, Getxo Foto and Noorderlicht Festival. In 2017 Monica obtained the Magnum Graduate Award and The Photogrpahers’ Gallery Bar Tur Photobook Award. Monica’s latest work ‘Possible Landscapes’ is a peace-building participatory project for young people in post-conflict countries.

The Photographers’ Gallery
The Photographers’ Gallery opened in 1971 in Great Newport Street, London, as the UK’s first independent gallery devoted to photography. It was the first public gallery in the UK to exhibit many key names in international photography, including Juergen Teller, Robert Capa, Sebastião Salgado and Andreas Gursky. The Gallery has also been instrumental in establishing contemporary British photographers, including Martin Parr and Corinne Day. In 2009, the Gallery moved to 16 – 18 Ramillies Street in Soho, the first stage in its plan to create a 21st century home for photography. Following an eighteen months long redevelopment project, the Gallery reopened to the public in 2012. The success of The Photographers’ Gallery over the past four decades has helped to establish photography as a recognised art form, introducing new audiences to photography and championing its place at the heart of visual culture.

Bemojake is an independent publisher producing limited edition photobooks, working in close collaboration with the artist and designer. The imprint was established by Maxwell Anderson in 2011.

Amnon Bar-Tur
Amnon Bar-Tur (b. 1942, Israel) served his national service as a military photographer and correspondent. After completing his service, he was invited to join Haaretz, Israel’s leading liberal daily newspaper, photographing for their weekend supplement. In 1966 Bar-Tur moved to England to study photography at London College of Printing and Graphic Arts and in 1968 joined with friend Jeff Vickers to provide photography and graphic design services to high profile clients. His work was widely syndicated and published worldwide. In 1976, Bar-Tur moved his family from England to the United States to grow his graphic design and production business. In 1981 he established Chroma Copy (later changed its name to C2media) in New York City, with English partner David Manning, building it to be one of the leading graphic design companies in the US with seven offices and more than 400 employees. After twenty-nine years they decided to sell the business in 2010 (now called C2 imaging). For the last ten years, Bar-Tur and his son Armon have worked together in real estate development in the US and the UK and are now focused on building student housing in the UK and Europe.