Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2015
The four artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015 are Nikolai Bakharev , Zanele Muholi , Viviane Sassen and Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse. This year’s selection showcases a diversity of photographic approaches including video and object and text based works, encompassing social documentary, portraiture and contemporary art photography.
Works by the shortlisted photographers were exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery from 17 April until 7 June 2015 and subsequently presented at the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum of Modern Art) in Frankfurt during the RAY 2015 Fotografieprojekte Frankfurt / RheinMain (20 June – 20 September 2015)
The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015 is an annual prize established by The Photographers’ Gallery, London in 1996 and in partnership with Deutsche Börse Group since 2005. The annual award of £30,000 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 2013 and 30 September 2014.
Nikolai Bakharev (b. 1946, Russia) for his exhibition at the 55th Biennale of Art in Venice (1 June - 24 November 2013). Bakharev trained as a mechanic before working as a Communal Services Factory photographer in the 1960s. Bakharev’s portraits of bathers on Russian public beaches blur the boundaries between the public and private, creating a tension between composed and spontaneous groupings. They were predominantly taken during the 1980s when photographs containing nudity were strictly forbidden. Though the families and couples are wearing bathing suits and willingly pose for the camera, the resulting images are furtive with an undercurrent of subterfuge and eroticism.
Zanele Muholi (b. 1972, South Africa) for her publication Faces and Phases 2006 - 2014 (co-published by Steidl and The Walther Collection, 2014). A selftitled visual activist, Zanele Muholi’s black and white portraits offer an insight into black LGBTI identity and politics in post-apartheid South Africa. Emphasising a conceptual and personal approach, the uncompromising images and accompanying first-person testimonies reflect the impact of homophobia, discrimination and violence, most notably ‘curative rape’ of black gay women, which often results in murder. Muholi’s archive of photographs forms an important force in female gay activism.
Viviane Sassen (b. 1972, Netherlands) for her exhibition Umbra at Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (8 March – 1 June 2014). The exhibition presented abstract photography, drawings and light installations accompanied by specially commissioned poems from artist and poet, Maria Barnas. Sassen’s distinctive and experimental approach to images foregrounds vivid colour alongside stark contrasts of light and shade in sculptural compositions where form and content verge on abstraction. In Umbra, Latin for shadow, the characteristic qualities of Sassen’s work support darker sensibilities, informed by the Jungian theory of the ‘shadow self’. This notion taps into personal fear, desire and shame as well as expressing more abstract concepts of the unknown, time and death.
Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse
Mikhael Subotzky (b. 1981, South Africa) and Patrick Waterhouse (b. 1981, UK) for their publication Ponte City (Steidl, 2014). The 54-floor apartment block in Johannesburg was built in 1976 for the white elite under apartheid rule. During the political transition in the 1980s and 90s, it became a refuge for black newcomers to the city and immigrants from all over Africa. Over the years decline and neglect led to it being positioned as the prime symbol of urban decay in the city and the supposed epicentre of crime, prostitution and drug dealing. Subotzky and Waterhouse began their project in 2007 working with the remaining residents, after a failed regeneration project. Through photographs, architectural plans, and archival and historical material Subotzky and Waterhouse created an intimate and evocative social portrait of the building’s community of residents and their culture. An additional sequence of seventeen booklets containing essays and personal stories complete the visual and spatial narrative of this Johannesburg landmark.
The members of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015 jury were: Chris Boot, Executive Director, Aperture Foundation; Rineke Dijkstra, Artist; Peter Gorschlüter, Deputy Director, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst and Anne Marie Beckmann, Curator, Art Collection Deutsche Börse.
Mikhael Subotzky (b.1981, South Africa) and Patrick Waterhouse (b.1981, UK) have been awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015 at a special ceremony in The Photographers’ Gallery this evening, Thursday 28 May 2015. The £30,000 award was presented by artist and previous Prize winner Oliver Chanarin on behalf of the artist duo Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin.
Subotzky and Waterhouse won for their publication Ponte City (Steidl, 2014). The book depicts a 54-floor apartment block in Johannesburg, built in 1976 for a white elite under apartheid rule. During the political transition in the 1980s and 90s, it became a refuge for black newcomers to the city and immigrants from all over Africa. Over the years decline and neglect led to it being positioned as the prime symbol of urban decay in the city and the supposed epicentre of crime, prostitution and drug dealing.
Subotzky and Waterhouse began their project in 2007 after a failed regeneration project. Working with remaining residents and using photographs, architectural plans, archival and historical material, they have created an intimate and evocative social portrait of the building’s community of residents and their culture. An accompanying sequence of seventeen booklets containing essays and personal stories complete the visual and spatial narrative of this Johannesburg landmark.