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Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 shortlist announced

'Fleeing Mosul' is one of the shortlisted photographs in this year's Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. © Abbie Trayler-Smith

Refugees and robots feature in the shortlisted images for this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, which is organised by the National Portrait Gallery.

The work of Cesar Dezfuli, Maija Tammi and Abbie Trayler-Smith have been selected from almost 6000 entries to the annual prize, which is celebrating its tenth anniversary under the sponsorship of Taylor Wessing this year.

Dezfuli, who had earlier this year been included in the British Journal of Photography’s Breakthrough Awards for his portrait of Amadou Sumalla from the series Passengers, has been shortlisted for the same image. His portrait of this refugee rescued from the sea is poignant at a time when the number of people crossing the sea from North Africa has increased dramatically. A Spanish-Persian photographer, Dezfuli’s work often focuses on human rights and identity.

Fleeing Mosul by Abbie Trayler-Smith comes from the series Women in War: Life After ISIS and depicts a young woman made a refugee by the conflict in the Middle East. Taken outside the Hasan Sham IDP camp in Northern Iraq, the photograph shows a woman looking out of a bus window as a convoy of vehicles arrive at the facility. These survivors had just escaped the battle lines hours before, and still had the look of shock on their faces, as the photographer explains: “The shock and the bewilderment in hers and others faces made me shudder to imagine what living under ISIS had been like. To me the uncertainty in her face echoes the faces of people having to flee their homes around the world and references a global feeling of insecurity.”

Maija Tammi’s image, One of Them is a Human #1, portrays Erica, an android from Hiroshi Ishiguro Laboratories – one of the world’s most advanced robots. As part of the project Tammi presented the machines alongside a human, hoping to provoke questions about what it means to be alive.

The winner will be announced at a ceremony on 14 November, and awarded £15,000. The shortlisted images will then be included in an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery alongside other noteworthy submissions. This year’s award is the first to have accepted digital entries since its launched in 1993. A total of 59 portraits from 50 artists were selected for the display, in which 18 were part of a series.

As well as the prize-winners, the show will include a new body of work by American photographer Todd Hido, whose photographs are in collections at the Guggenheim Museum, the Smithsonian and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It will also feature the John Kobal New Work Award, worth a cash prize of £5000.

Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: ‘The submission for this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize, was exceptionally strong and the resulting exhibition consists of a range of photographic subjects that is truly global in its scope and concerns. The Gallery looks forward to welcoming visitors to this annual showcase of the finest contemporary portrait photography.’

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2017 exhibition will run at the gallery from 16 November 2017 to 4 February 2018 before touring venues across the UK.

More information is available here.

‘One of them is Human #1: Erica’ is one of the shortlisted photographs in this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. © Maija Tammi

‘Amadou Sumalia’ is one of the shortlisted photographs in this year’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize. © Cesar Dezfuli