Belgian photographer Max Pinckers has won the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Award with his series Red Ink. He receives €25,000, plus a Leica M camera and lens.
Red Ink was shot in North Korea while Pinckers was on assignment for The New Yorker magazine, accompanying journalist Evan Osnos on a four-day trip in August 2017 – the height of the propaganda war with the US. Pinckers’ access to the country was heavily stage-managed by the North Korean government, which carefully set up scenes for him to photograph. Knowing that this would be the case, Pinckers shot the images with a flash, creating a sense of the artificial that tipped the scenes presented to him into the surreal.
The Leica Oskar Barnack Award is one of the most prestigious in the business and, with a top prize of €25,000 plus a Leica M-System (camera and lens), it’s a lucrative one too. This year, 12 photographers have been picked out for the shortlist – Samuel Gratacap (France), Daniel Chatard (Germany), Max Pinckers (Belgium), Ernesto Benavides (Peru), Vanja Bucan (Slovenia), Turi Calafato (Italy), Stephen Dock (France), Mary Gelman (Russia), Stéphane Lavoué (France), Elsa Stubbé (Belgium), Christian Werner (Germany), and Kechun Zhang (China). Benavides has been nominated for Dredges, a series on illegal gold mining in his native Peru; Bucan’s Sequences of Truth and Deception looks at the ambivalent relationship between humans and nature. Calafato’s Amuninni ‘u mari [Let’s go to the sea] shows locals on the beach in Sicily; Chatard’s Niemandsland [No man’s land] documents the tense relationship between the mining industry and environmental activists in the Rhenish region. Dock’s Architecture of Violence was shot in Ireland and records the reverberations of war; Gelman’s Svetlana looks at a community of mentally disabled people in Russia. …
“With this exhibition FOAM is trying to form a vision of how contemporary photography is shaped by young photographers,” says Mirjam Kooiman, curator at the FOAM Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. “These artists have already made really good work, and they have a lot of potential.”