Born in Italy, Luca Desienna has been a freelance photographer since 1998. One of the co-founders of Gomma Books in 2004, he has produced four Gomma magazines plus two publications devoted to black-and-white photography, MONO volumes I and II, working with image-makers such as Roger Ballen, Antoine D’Agata, Trent Parke, Daido Moriyama, and Anders Petersen. Petersen has described Desienna’s personal project My Dearest Javanese Concubine as “a story full of vitamins and warm energy”, and the series was shown at the official selection of the 2012 Arles Voies Off. My Dearest Javanese Concubine is now being made into a book by Gomma Books in collaboration with VOID and BlowUp Press, available for pre-order now and due for publication in May.
“The work represents my experience in recovering and understanding my parents, their life and their relationship towards myself,” says Marco Marzocchi of his series Oyster. “I never knew them well because they split when I was 6 years old, and they both died young.
“Drugs, addictions, jail, and dysfunctional environment, these were constant elements. This work is focused on dealing and replacing all the doubts and the fears that I had. Exorcising the pain and the searching for love.” A bold mix of colour, black-and-white, contemporary and archive images, presented with hand-written text, Marzocchi’s series has scooped first prize in the 2017 Gomma Grant. Marzocchi has worked on the project for a decade, honing down on the editing last year with distinguished photographers JH Engstrom and Margot Wallard at the celebrated Atelier Smedsby workshop.
“There is this feeling that if someone has won an award, then it will not be a mistake if they are awarded again. But unfortunately selecting this way does not highlight fresh gems and talents. It just creates trends, but not excitement and new-comers. We at Gomma are not afraid to prize unknown photographers,” says founder Luca Desienna. This year’s awards are now open for submissions with past winners boasting solo exhibitions, international magazine features and photobook publications since bagging the award.