Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018
"Year on year, the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize at The Photographers’ Gallery expands the remit of what photography is, what it can do, and who can be nominated.” - The Art Newspaper
The four artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 are Mathieu Asselin, Rafal Milach, Batia Suter and Luke Willis Thompson.
Curated by TPG’s Anna Dannemann, the 2018 shortlist showcases diverse and innovative photographic practices, which recognise and celebrate the many developments within the medium, while also challenging its boundaries. All of the projects share a deep concern with the representation of knowledge through images, where facts can be manipulated and meanings can shift. Presented across the 4th and 5th floors of the Gallery, the exhibition features a searing photographic interrogation of global biotech giant, Monsanto by Mathieu Asselin; an expansive portrayal of the ubiquitous tactics of government control and propaganda from Rafal Milach; an encyclopaedic collection of visual taxonomies that expose the shifting and relative meanings of printed images depending on their context by Batia Suter; and Luke Willis Thompson’s deeply affecting filmic study of grief that reflects the personal stakes of visual representation. Collectively and individually, the four projects drive forward an artistic enquiry into the mechanics of visibility and concealment and interrogate the status and position of the image in contemporary culture.
Mathieu Asselin’s project Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation (Actes Sud, 2017) will be presented on the 5th floor of the Gallery. In a meticulous 5-year investigation, supported by archival documentation, court files, personal letters company memorabilia and photographs, Asselin presents the reckless history of growth of the global biotechnology corporation Monsanto. Best known as the leading manufacturer of insecticides DDT, PCBs, Agent Orange and genetically engineered seeds, Monsanto’s practices and products have caused devastating human, ecological and economic impacts throughout the company’s long history. Asselin conducted extensive research, travelling through Vietnam and the United States of America to find the people and places dramatically affected by the products manufactured and sold by Monsanto. In this hard-hitting documentation, Asselin exposes the global company’s practices and their cynical efforts to change their negative public image through children’s TV shows and marketing campaigns. For his presentation at TPG, Mathieu wanted to evidence the next chapter of the Monsanto saga, something he was not able to include in the book. This new element focuses on the corporation's merger with pharmaceutical giant, Bayer AG and its connection to and influence on the stocks and shares of each company. Mathieu has included an additional text, which is displayed on the gallery wall alongside two android tablets displaying live stock market information on Bayer AG and Monsanto from the Frankfurt stock exchange using the Deutsche Borse app.
By linking the German stock exchange, Monsanto and Bayer AG in this way, Mathieu adds another layer to his exploration of power, control and currency.
Acclaimed writer Michael Saur has written an essay for the accompanying exhibition catalogue.
The 5th floor of the gallery will showcase Luke Willis Thompson’s project autoportrait (exhibited at Chisenhale Gallery, London 23 June – 27 August 2017). Displayed in a special projection space, Thompson will present a silent portrait of Diamond Reynolds. In July 2016, Reynolds broadcast, via Facebook Live, the moments immediately after the fatal shooting of her partner Philando Castile, by a police officer during a traffic-stop in Minnesota, United States. Reynolds’ video circulated widely online and amassed over six million views. In November 2016, Thompson established a conversation with Reynolds and her lawyer, and invited Reynolds to work with him on an aesthetic response to her video broadcast. Acting as a ‘sister-image’ the artwork would break with the well-known image of Reynolds, caught in a moment of violence and distributed within a constant flow of news. Shot on 35mm, black and white film and presented in the gallery as a single screen work, autoportait continues to reopen questions of the agency of Reynolds’ recording within, outside of, and beyond the conditions of predetermined racial power structures. For the exhibition catalogue, writer and Professor at Tufts University, Christina Sharpe has contributed an essay on the artist.
Nominated for her publication Parallel Encyclopedia #2 (Roma, 2016), Batia Suter’s immersive installation is presented on the 4th floor of the gallery. With large, unframed photographic prints, the artist will reinvent her substantial publication, and exercise the iconification of images by placing them in new and varying contexts exposing the possibilities of visual editing. Suter’s artistic approach is personal and intuitive, selecting a large number of images, which ultimately present how visual formats affect and manipulate meaning, depending on where and how they are placed.In her installations, Suter establishes subjective associations that offer visual dialogues and new categorisations that demonstrate how our understanding of nature and the physical world, as well as different cultures and places are affected by their context of representation. The found images, which will fill the Gallery wall space, are sourced and reproduced from roughly 1000 diverse publications collected by the artist. Diane Dufour, Director of the prestigious photography institution Le Bal in Paris, has written a piece focusing on Suter’s work for the exhibition publication.
Nominated for his exhibition Refusal (Atlas Sztuki Gallery, Lodz, Poland 12 May – 18 June 2017), Rafal Milach’s project focuses on the applied sociotechnical systems of governmental control and the ideological manipulations of belief and consciousness. Focusing on post-Soviet countries such as Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Poland, Milach traces the mechanisms of propaganda and their visual representation in architecture, urban projects and objects. The exhibition features a variety of different material and visual layers that ultimately represent these systems of control and manipulation. These include photographs of handmade objects found in governmental centres and chess schools that produce optical illusions and whose innocent disposition is fundamentally changed as they exemplify how the human mind can be influenced and controlled. As well, there will be screenings of Soviet television programmes showing social experiments, various state-run competitions and more recent propaganda raps about social moral and national pride. These further exemplify the universal processes employed to format and shift meanings that serve governmental objectives. Award-winning photographer and winner of the 2013 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize Adam Broomberg has written the accompanying exhibition catalogue text.
The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced during the exhibition run at an evening award ceremony in May.
The exhibition tours to the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, Germany from 22 June until 9 September 2018.
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 £30,000 prize rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format in Europe felt to have significantly contributed to the medium of photography between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017.
2018 marks the twenty-first year of the Prize and reaffirms its commitment to showcasing photographers and works of all genres and approaches, which exemplify exceptional viewpoints and bold practice.
The 2018 Jury
The members of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 jury are: Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation; Duncan Forbes, Curator and visiting research Fellow at the Westminster University; Gordon MacDonald, Artist, Curator and Editor; Penelope Umbrico, Artist and Brett Rogers, Director, The Photographers’ Gallery as the non-voting chair.