BJP-online Loves Maria Sturm’s You don’t look Native to me, Jean-Vincent Simonet’s psychedelic images of Tokyo, Roger Melis’ photographs of East Germany, Dawoud Bey’s exhibition Places in History, and the fact that MACK’s First Book Award is now open-entry
“It’s a bit hard to find words for this – You don’t look Native to me won the PHmuseum Women Photographers Grant,” says Maria Sturm. “I feel exponentially happy and glad to be sharing the list with other women photographers whose work I admire.”
Sturm has won the prize in a strong year for the PHmuseum Women Photographers Grant, with the 31 shortlisted photographers including Magnum Photos’ Diana Markosian, Sputnik Photos’ Karolina Gembara, and Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize-winner Alice Mann. But her long-term project You don’t look Native to me, which shows young Native Americans in Pembroke, North Carolina impressed the judges with its sensitive approach to its subjects.
The paradox of otherness is at the core of Maria Sturm’s You don’t look Native to me. Her subjects belong to the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, the largest tribe in the region with around 55,000 members, with their name taken from the Lumber River of Robeson County. Starting in 2011, Romania-born, Germany-raised Sturm spent time in Pembroke, the economic, cultural and political centre of the tribe, photographing their daily lives. It opened up questions about visibility, identity and stereotype in the US, where Native Americans are romanticised yet often dismissed. Many tribes remain officially unrecognised, though the sense of identity within the communities is very strong.
On her first visit, Sturm was struck by two aspects. “One was that almost everyone I talked to introduced themselves with their names and their tribe. The other was the omnipresence of Native American symbolism: on street signs, pictures on walls, on cars, on shirts and as tattoos.” She attended powwows (where leaders pray to Jesus, another surprise to Sturm) and spent time with locals.
Now in its second year, the PHmuseum Women Photographer Grant has a simple premise – to recognise and award world-class photographers, who also happen to be women. Judged this year by a prestigious panel including Magnum photographer Alessandra Sanguinetti and The Photographers’ Gallery senior curator Karen McQuaid, the Grant has two main sections – The Women Photographer Grant and the New Generation Prize for those under 30 years of age. BJP takes a look at those who have made the shortlist.
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.