The South African photographer’s series of self-portraits addressing race, gender, and identity has been awarded the prestigious photobook prize
The shortlists are out for the Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards and the result for the photobook prize is striking: this year, all three shortlisted books are by women, with Laia Abril’s On Abortion (Dewi Lewis Publishing), Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph, and Somnyama Ngonyama, Hail the Dark Lioness by Zanele Muholi (Aperture) all making the grade.
But says chair of the Kraszna-Krausz, Brian Pomeroy, that fact shouldn’t stand out as remarkable. “We’ve had female winners before,” he says. “It just shows talent is equally distributed, and you wouldn’t expect anything else. There have been very strong female photographers since the beginning of photography, I don’t think it’s something new.”
Liz Jobey, associate editor of the FT Weekend Magazine and a member of the photobook jury along with Chrystel Lebas, photographer and Kraszna-Krausz Book Award Winner 2018, and Anne McNeill, director of the Impressions Gallery, agrees, adding that the jury wasn’t deliberately looking out for books by women. But, she says, it’s an interesting time in which photography – and society and culture more generally – is opening up to other perspectives, and that was naturally reflected in this year’s shortlist.
Chrystel Lebas has won the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation Photography Book Award, beating off the two other shortlisted photographers – Stephen Gill and Dayanita Singh. Lebas won the prize for Field Studies: Walking through Landscapes and Archives, which she published with Dutch outfit FW: Books. Field Studies is framed by the work of 20th century botanist Sir Edward James Salisbury, particularly his glass plate negatives from the 1920s, retracing his steps and making new images in the same Scottish landscapes. Gill was shortlisted for Night Procession, which he self-published through his imprint Nobody Books; Singh was shortlisted for her multi-book project Museum Bhavan, which was published by Steidl.
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”.
First awarded back in 1985, the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation Best Photography Book prize is one of the oldest in the business. Previous winners include Sergio Larrain (with Vagabond Photographer in 2014), Susan Meiselas (with In History in 2009), Boris Mikhailov (with Case History in 2000), and Eugene Richards (with Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue in 1994); this year three contemporary image-makers have made the shortlist – Stephen Gill, Chrystel Lebas, and Dayanita Singh. Gill has been nominated for the book Night Procession, which he self-published through his imprint Nobody Books. Shot using motion-sensor cameras in rural southern Sweden, where Gill moved with his family in 2014, the book reveals nocturnal animal activity in the dark forests. The book also includes an essay by Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgȃrd, who is best-known for his series of six autobiographies, Min Kamp [My Struggle]. Chrystel Lebas won a place on the shortlist with Field Studies: Walking through Landscapes and Archives, which is published by Dutch organisation FW: Books). Her work retraces the steps of British botanist Sir Edward James Salisbury, creating new images in the same …