Themes of cultural identity and political conflict prevail in this year’s shortlist for the MACK First Book Award, which includes dummy photobooks that explore interracial marriage in Zimbabwe, the UK’s June 2016 referendum on EU membership, and young Turkish immigrants living in Europe, plus others addressing universal themes of family, time, and space. The prestigious award is now in its eighth year, having been set up in 2012 to support emerging and unpublished photographers. The First Book Award has helped launch the careers of image-makers like Paul Salveson and Joanna Piotrowska, via shortlists nominated by a panel of international experts – until now. This year, for first time, the shortlist has been drawn from an open call. “One of the things we are attempting to remove is the notion that unless you’re connected, unless you’re in the know and have contacts in that sphere, you can’t go forward,” said Michael Mack, founder of MACK, to bjp-online in December 2018. “We want to discourage that idea.” The shortlist was compiled by five industry experts, including Michael Mack, founder …
It’s a prestigious prize, which earns the winner an exhibition at Photo London plus a photobook published by the well-regraded specialist MACK Books. This year it’s gone to Hayahisa Tomiyasu for his book dummy TTP. Shot from the window of his eighth-floor student flat in Leipzig, Germany, TTP shows a park with a ping pong table, shot at various times of day and in various seasons, and showing different protagonists each time. The table is used as a tischtennisplatte (table tennis table, as a sun lounger, as a climbing frame, as a skate obstacle, and as much more, and, states MACK Books “thanks to Tomiyasu’s sustained curiosity, we observe the habits, humour, and idiosyncrasies of human behaviour”.
Ten photographers have made it into the shortlist for the annual MACK First Book Award; the winning project will be announced in May at Photo London 2020
It’s free to enter, anyone from anywhere can enter, it’s helped launch photographers such as Paul Salveson, Joanna Piotrowska, and Emmanuelle Andrianjafy, and its winner is announced at Photo London and publishes a book with the prestigious MACK. It is the First Book Award, and in just eight years it’s become a firm fixture on the photobook calendar – and yet so far it’s only received 300 or so submissions per year. How come?
Well, until now MACK has organised it with the help of an international panel of nominators, meaning that only those photographers recommended by this group of curators, editors, and educators could get involved. But now all that’s changed, with the first-ever open-entry First Book Award accepting dummies from anyone who wants to submit. “One of the things we are attempting to remove is the notion that unless you’re connected, unless you’re in the know and have contacts in that sphere, you can’t go forward,” says Michael Mack, founder of MACK. “We want to discourage that idea.”
From mass shootings to a family hotel – the shortlist for the 2018 First Book Award is nothing if not eclectic. Set up in 2012 to support emerging talent, the First Book Award is open to previously unpublished photographers who have been nominated by an international panel of experts, and previous winners include Irish photographer Ciarán Óg Arnold, Polish photographer Joanna Piotrowska, and Malagasy photographer Emmanuelle Andrianjafy. The ten shortlisted photographers this year come from all over the world, including Indian photographer Tenzing Dapka, Japanese photographer Hayahisa Tomiyasu, and Australian photographer Lionel Kiernan.
The founder of publisher MACK shares his favourite projects from 2019
Gregory Halpern’s new photobook centers on Omaha, Nebraska, presenting a timely meditation on America and masculinity
The inaugural award calls for entries from unpublished photographers, with the winning work to be edited, designed, and distributed by the ICP/GOST imprint, along with an exhibition at ICP’s new space in New York
Publications we loved, and the big news stories from the last month in photobooks – including the nominees from the 2019 Mack First Book Award and an interview with photobook collector extraordinaire Manfred Heiting
Publications we loved, and the big news stories from the last month in photobooks, including American Winter by Gerry Johansson, Void’s Hunger project, and JA Mortram’s Small Town Inertia