Our pick of the key stories from the past week, including the World Press Photo and MACK First Book Award nominees, and interviews with Iain McKell, Tommaso Rada, and Mona Kuhn
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 The prestigious award is now in its eighth year, having been set up in 2012 to support emerging and unpublished photographers.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 …
Pasko Kuzman wears four watches because he believes they help him travel through time. He’s an archaeologist who works in an office called Troy, searching for the burial site of Alexander the Great, and other elements of Macedonia’s Classical past.
Kuzman is one of the many characters Michał Siarek met while photographing Alexander, an exploration of Macedonian national identity by way of ‘Skopje 2014’. Set up in 2010 (and originally slated to end in 2014), the Skopje 2014 project hopes to make Skopje a tourist attraction by drawing on its history – Macedonia was once part of Ancient Greece, and shares its name with a Northern Greek province, but is now so far removed from its heritage that its neighbour lobbied for it to be called the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Photobooks have been booming for the last ten years or so but one prize has been there for the last 49 years – Les Prix du Livre at Arles, which was set up at the same time as the Rencontres d’Arles festival. With its long history and prestigious jury, which is this year overseen by FOAM director Marloes Krijnen, the Prix du Livre are some of the best-respected in photography.
Three Prix are up for grabs in three categories this year – the Historical Book Award, the Author Book Award, and the Photo-text Book Award, each of which come with a €6000 prize to be shared between the photographers and their publishers. The books are on show at Arles until 23 September, and the winners will be announced in the opening week.
Some 43 photographers have been shortlisted for the Gomma Grant this year: Alvaro Deprit, Antonio Faccilongo, Arko Datto, Baptiste Giroudon, Carla Kogelman, CJ Clarke, Damien Daufresne, David Favrod, David Molina, Demetris Koilalous, Dolezal Antone, Elena Anosova, Esa Ylijaasko, Gael Bonnefon, Geert Broertjes, Gianluca Abblasio, Harit Srikhao, Irina Popova, Irina Zadorozhnaia, Jean-Marc Caimi & Valentina Piccinni, Jessica Eve Rattner, John Feely, Julie Glassberg, Kaja Rata, Laura Thompson, Leafhopper Project David Simon Martret & Blanca Galindo, Lily Zoumpouli, Lua Ribeira, Luigi Cecconi, Marcus DeSieno, Marilisa Cosello, Marina Black, Matthew Arnold, Mikael Hellstrom, Michal Siarek, Nicola Zolin, Paul Thulin, Panos Kefalos, Piotr Zbierski, Qian zhao, Sarah Pabst, Yurian Quintanas Nobel and Zackary Canepari. The winners will be announced on 15 February, with the overall winner awarded a €1000 cash prize, second place €500 and third place €200, plus a host of other prizes. The grant has been running since 2014, and the two previous winners are Javier Arcenillas (2015) and Ksenia Yurkova (2014). The Gomma Grant jury this year included Matt Shonfeld, executive director of Institute; Michael Itkoff, cofounder of Daylight …