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Shortlist announced for 2018 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize

Khyrdalan, Azerbaijan © Rafał Milach 2016. Geometric figures and models triggering optical illusions, partly created by pupils of the chess school located in the Khyrdalan Heydar Aliyev Centre. The structure and observation of these objects is intended to help develop young Azerbaijanis’ spatial imagination and abstract thinking skills. The man the centre is named after began his road to authority as an official of the Stalinist secret police organisation, the NKVD. He was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and an opponent of both Gorbachev and the politics of glasnost. In 1993, he became the president of the recently independent Azerbaijan.

Mathieu Asselin, Rafal Milach, Batia Suter, and Luke Willis Thompson have all made it into the running for the prestigious £30,000 award

It’s the 21st year of the prize, and this year the shortlisted projects by Mathieu Asselin, Rafal Milach, Batia Suter, and Luke Willis Thompson all “reflect a shared concern with the production and manipulation of knowledge and systems of representation through visual formats”, say the organisers of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018.

Mathieu Asselin (b. 1973, France) has been nominated for Monsanto: A Photographic Investigation, which was published this year by Actes Sud and exhibited at Les Rencontres d’Arles, and which has already won the First Book of the Year in the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards 2017. Investigating the global biotechnology corporation Monstanto, Asselin’s book brings together his own photographs with documents and images produced by both Monsanto and others, which demonstrate both its dubious human, ecological and economic impact, and its attempts to shape its public image.

“I am not discovering hot water,” Asselin told bjp-online in an interview published earlier this year. “Extensive research has already been done on this corporation. [But] when I learnt about the Monsanto House of the Future in Disneyland, in California [an attraction at the theme park from 1957-67], I resolved to show the difference between propaganda and reality. For five years I have been searching for memorabilia related to Monsanto and collecting material for the project.”

Thuý Linh, Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, 2015 © Mathieu Asselin. Courtesy of the artist

Rafal Milach (b. 1978, Poland) is nominated for his exhibition Refusal, which was shown from 12 May–18 June at the Atlas Sztuki Gallery in Lodz, Poland. Milach, who provided BJP‘s cover feature for our December issue, also brought together images from many different sources for his project, in order to demonstrate systems of governmental control and ideological manipulations of belief and consciousness in post-Soviet countries such as Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Poland.

Batia Suter (1967, Switzerland) is nominated for her publication Parallel Encyclopedia #2 (Roma, 2016), which continues a project started in her 2007 publication Parallel Encyclopedia. A compilation of roughly 1000 images which Suter found in various publications, the book is “an image-led sequence of subjective associations offering visual dialogues and new categorisations that demonstrate how our understanding of the physical world and its history, as well as different cultures and places are affected by their context of representation”, according to the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 publicity.

Luke Willis Thompson (b. 1988, New Zealand) has been nominated for a 35mm film called autoportrait, which was on show from 23 June–27 August in London’s Chisenhale Gallery. The work was made with an American woman called Diamond Reynolds, who in July 2016 used Facebook Live to broadcast the moments immediately after her partner Philando Castile was fatally shot by a police officer during a traffic-stop in Minnesota. The video was widely circulated online and amassed over six million views; it was also played to a jury as evidence in June 2017, in a court case which saw the officer involved acquitted of all charges.

Working with Reynolds, Thompson created a “sister-image” to Reynolds’ original broadcast, hoping to break with what had become a well-known image of her caught in a moment of violence, which was distributed within the 24/7 news cycle. In doing so, he hoped “to question of the agency of Reynolds’ recording within, outside of, and beyond the conditions of predetermined racial power structures”, state the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize organisers.

Luke Willis Thompson’s Autoportrait, 2017; installation view, Chisenhale Gallery 2017. Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery and produced in partnership with Create. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate

Exhibitions by all four shortlisted artists will go on show at The Photographers’ Gallery, London from 23 February-03 June 2018, with the winner announced on 17 May. The exhibition will then tour to the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt, as part of the photo triennal RAY 2018. The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is open to living photographers of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format in Europe which is felt to have significantly contributed to the medium of photography from September-September the preceding year. The prize comes with a £30,000 award.

The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018 jury is: Anne-Marie Beckmann, director, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation; Duncan Forbes, curator and visiting research fellow at Westminster University; Gordon MacDonald, artist, curator and editor; Penelope Umbrico, artist; and Brett Rogers, director, The Photographers’ Gallery as the non-voting chair.

The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation is a Frankfurt-based non-profit organisation which collects, exhibits and promotes contemporary photography; Art Collection Deutsche Börse was started in 1999 and now holds more than 1,700 works by over 120 international artists. Based in Frankfurt, Deutsche Börse is “a marketplace organiser for the trading of shares and other securities; it is also a transaction services provider and gives companies and investors access to global capital markets”.

https://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/ https://www.deutscheboersephotographyfoundation.org/

Van Buren, Indiana, 2013 © Mathieu Asselin. Courtesy of the artist

Anaklia, Georgia © Rafał Milach 2013. An unfinished viewing tower. In 2011, President Micheil Saakashvili visited Anaklia, a village located on the Black Sea. He conferred town rights on it and announced the beginning of an ambitious development programme which would transform it into a luxury resort. Resplendent with lavish glamour, Anaklia was intended both to become the new authorities’ political flagship and to compensate for the nearby city of Sukhumi, which was lost during the Georgian-Russian-Abkhazian conflict of the early 1990s. Construction work began in 2012. After Saakashvili’s party was defeated in the parliamentary election of 2013 and Saakashvili himself fled the country, the work was discontinued and the colossal building site rapidly transformed into crumbling ‘modern’ ruins.

Carnation, 2015 © Batia Suter. Courtesy of the artist

Luke Willis Thompson’s Autoportrait, 2017; installation view, Chisenhale Gallery 2017. Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery and produced in partnership with Create. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Andy Keate