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 The prestigious award is now in its eighth year, having been set up in 2012 to support emerging and unpublished photographers.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 …
BJP-online Loves Maria Sturm’s You don’t look Native to me, Jean-Vincent Simonet’s psychedelic images of Tokyo, Roger Melis’ photographs of East Germany, Dawoud Bey’s exhibition Places in History, and the fact that MACK’s First Book Award is now open-entry
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.”
Would you like to join Magnum Photos? The agency is inviting photographers worldwide to submit their portfolios online by 31 January to be considered for nominee status.
Magnum will accept digital submissions from all professional photographers, and entries for June 2019 can be made through this website: https://contests.picter.com/magnum-photos/submissions-2019/ Applicants are required to submit two to three projects, with up to 80 photographs in total. The new nominee members will be announced on 01 July 2019.
In addition MACK is accepting open submissions for its First Book Award this year – in contrast to previous years, in which photographers were nominated by a panel of industry insiders. The prize is open to any photographer or artist who has not previously published work with a third party company, and entries are invited from 12 November 2018 – 21 January 2019. All entries must be paper book dummies; digital submissions are not accepted.
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”.
In 1972, while studying photography at Manchester Polytechnic, Daniel Meadows took over a disused shop in Moss Side’s Graeme Street and turned it into a ‘free photography studio’. Shooting people for nothing, and sending them their portraits or putting the prints in the shop window, Meadows was able to keep going for eight weeks before he ran out of money. Troubled by the fact that those whose images were in the shop window could no longer see the photographs, he laid out the remaining prints on wooden boards and nailed them to trees in the local park. He later realised this had been his first exhibition.
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.
London-based publisher MACK Books is one of the world’s best-respected photobook makers. A leading producer of contemporary books, working with some of the most established artists in the field, MACK has also won acclaim for republishing hard-to-find classics such as Masahisa Fukase’s Ravens and Luigi Ghirri’s Kodachrome, and for supporting and promoting emerging artists, particularly through its prestigious First Book Award. In addition, MACK has published several books compiling writing on photography by artists such as Joan Fontcuberta, Allan Sekula and Victor Burgin. MACK was originally set up as steidlMACK in 2004 and was part of the Steidl publishing house, but its founder, Michael Mack, left the German company to go it alone in 2010. Now MACK’s work to date under both imprints is being showcased at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Australia, in an exhibition presented by Perimeter Books which features over 200 books and special editions, including MACK’s pioneering experiments in digital publishing via MAPP Editions. In most cases, visitors are able to hold, handle and read these rare and sometimes out-of-print photobooks.
A project called I went to the worst of bars hoping to get killed. but all I could do was to get drunk again, by Irish photographer Ciarán Óg Arnold, has won this year’s First Book Award. Born in 1977, Arnold has spent almost his whole life living his pictures in the town of Ballinasloe. The project, taken over the past five years, shows drunken knuckle-fights, hard men’s tears and derelict homes as the active participants in a post-recession landscape. “I never really had a project in mind,” Arnold tells BJP. “I just took the photographs at weekends to have something to do. The photographs are about this fatalistic atmosphere of male negativity. Machismo, and having nowhere to express it. I wanted to show how something feels, how it looks – to get the emotional desperation and the anger. I’ve never really talked about it with anyone before. It’s hard. “You would go into one nightclub on weekends, there’d be no one in the entire place except for these guys in the corner with the boxing machine, getting out their aggression …