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Broomberg & Chanarin win Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013

© Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin

Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin are the first artist duo to win the prize in its 17-year history

South African-born Adam Broomberg and UK-born Oliver Chanarin have been awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013. The announcement was made this evening at The Photographers’ Gallery in central London, with the award presented by film director Mike Figgis.

Each year the £30,000 cash prize is awarded to “a photographer of any nationality for their significant contribution to the medium of photography, either through an exhibition or publication in Europe” in the last 12 months.

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Broomberg & Chanarin, who live and work in London, were nominated for their publication War Primer 2, published this year by Mack Books. It is the first time in the history of the prize that an artist duo has won the award.

“The limited-edition book physically inhabits the pages of Bertolt Brecht’s publicationWar Primer (1955),” say the judges. “In the original, Brecht matched WWII newspaper clippings with short poems that sought to demystify press images, which he referred to as hieroglyphics. In War Primer 2, Broomberg & Chanarin focus on the war on terror; sifting through the internet for low-resolution screengrabs and mobile phone images, the artists then combined them to resonate with Brecht’s poems.”

The duo came ahead of other shortlisted photographers, including Mishka Henner, Chris Killip and Cristina De Middel, who each receive £3000. Henner was nominated for his exhibition No Man’s Land at Fotografia Festival Internazionale di Roma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Rome, Italy (20 September – 28 October 2012); Killip was nominated for his exhibition What Happened Great Britain 1970 – 1990 at Le Bal, Paris (11 May – 19 August 2012); and Cristina De Middel was nominated for her photobook The Afronauts (2011, self-published).

The award was judged by a jury comprising artist Joan Fontcuberta; Andrea Holzherr, exhibition manager at Magnum; Karol Hordziej, artistic director of the Krakow Photomonth; and Anne-Marie Beckmann, curator of the art collection at Deutsche Börse. Brett Rogers, director of The Photographers’ Gallery, is the non-voting chair of the jury.

In a press statement, Rogers said: “The jury awarded the prize to Broomberg & Chanarin for their bold and powerful re-imagining of Brecht’s War Primer. They applauded the way in which the project pushed the boundaries of the medium, exploring the complex relationship between image and text while drawing on elements from both the past history of photography and the present image economy.”

Broomberg & Chanarin, who began their careers as editors and photographers atColors magazine in the late 1990s, have been producing work together for more than a decade. They have published 10 books in total, most recently Holy Bible, co-published by Mack Books, and The Archive of Modern Conflict this month.

The duo feature in the latest (June) issue of BJP (download here) which takes age, photographic output and creativity as its central themes. In the issue, Broomberg shares his thoughts about process, the nature of collaboration, and whether there is such a thing as a creative peak. For Broomberg, the idea of reaching a ‘peak’ is far off, if it exists at all.

“I don’t feel like we’ve got anywhere near reaching the peak of our output,” he tellsBJP. “We’ve worked hard and consistently, and the concerns of our work have remained steady, but the type of output and the strategies have changed.

“Our work has always been collaborative, not only between the two of us, but always with other people… Really critical work runs against the grain and you’ve got to be constantly pushing against that conservative mode.”

The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2013 is on show at The Photographers’ Gallery until 30 June. It will then travel to the Deutsche Börse headquarters in Germany from 12 September to 31 October.

For more information visit The Photographers’ Gallery