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 The prestigious award is now in its eighth year, having been set up in 2012 to support emerging and unpublished photographers.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 …
Brussels-based photographer Rebecca Fertinel has won the Unseen Dummy Award with her book Ubuntu. The book was shot in a Congolese community in Belgium, which Fertinel first visited in August 2015, when she was invited to a wedding by a friend. Whilst there she was introduced to a warm and friendly society, and the concept of “ubuntu” – the idea that “you become a human being by connecting with everything and everyone”.
The judges were particularly impressed with the editing of Fertinel’s book proposal which, they say, “transforms documentary photography into an unexpected narrative flow of community events”. The images move from one party to another party to a funeral, for example, the latter creating “a kind of breaking point” in the middle of the book, creating “a kind of dance where you don’t know what comes after”, and thereby summing up something about life.
Unseen Amsterdam has announced the 34 photobook dummies shortlisted for the Unseen Dummy Award 2018. Picked out from 212 submissions by a five-strong committee, the shortlist respects “a degree of rawness, including an ‘unfinished’ look and feel’, in keeping with the prize’s ethos of celebrating books-in-progress. The winner will be announced on 21 September at Unseen Amsterdam, after being picked out by an international jury including: Paul van Mameren, managing director of the award’s sponsor Lecturis; Sarah Allen, assistant curator, Tate Modern; Tim Clark, editor-in-chief and director, 1000 Words; Russet Lederman, co-founder, 10×10 Photobooks; and Małgorzata Stankiewicz, winner of the Unseen Dummy Award 2017. Stankiewicz’s winning book dummy, cry of an echo, was published by Lecturis in May. Showing the Białowieża Forest, the last remaining primeval forest in Poland, Stankiewicz used several unusual interventions when processing her images – including masking, uneven development, and even bleaching – to protest against the intensive logging which has been allowed in the forest by new legislation passed in 2016. Unseen Amsterdam takes place from 21-23 September at Westergasfabriek https://unseenamsterdam.com