Perhaps one of the most famous photography prizes to be established in the UK since being created in 1996, the Deutsche Börse Prize celebrates those who are the best in a publication or exhibition. To be nominated for such an award, one must have made a significant contribution to the photographic medium in the past year, and is a highly prestigious award to be won.
This year, the nominees are: Alberto Garcia-Alix, Nominated for his publication Autorretrato/Self-portrait; Jochen Lempert, Nominated for his exhibition Jochen Lempert at Hamburger Kunsthalle; Lorna Simpson, Nominated for her exhibition Lorna Simpson (Retrospective) at Jeu de Paume, Paris and Richard Mosse, Nominated for his exhibition The Enclave at Venice Biennale, Irish Pavilion.
We were lucky enough to go visit these artists and their works on a day out to London as part of our termly trip; this is the main attraction for The Photographers Gallery, so two floors of the building was dedicated to showing off the works.
All of the works were presented as a group show towards the public, but the pieces shown were the ones being nominated for the prize. So if you were turning up to see other pieces from the artists, then you would be slightly disappointed (but still worth the visit!)
For me, the standout artist who I believe should win is Richard Mosse’s work on the conflict in Congo. What makes his work so unique is that he used a special piece of film that is no longer created or in use; the film was made for military purposes for surveillance, and would turn the area into an infrared colour (deep reds/pinks.) Mosse is known for his war photography, but this work was different then the others.
In these pictures, Mosse manages to turn the nasty stigma attached to war on its head, and provides this peaceful imagery. When you look at the picture, you don’t instantly think “war”, in my case there was a weird mixture between a carnival and a campness about it. Yet this is purposly done from him in order to show the inability to adequately communicate this complex and horrific cycle of violence.
The other artist who I think will give Mosse a run for him money is Alberto Garcia-Alix. His work was in stark contrast to Mosse, yet it was just as compelling to see; this might have been helped on by the video that was playing at the same time around the photo’s, giving us some insight into Albero’s thoughts and why he took the pictures.
When looking at these pictures, I am reminded of Sally Mann’s and Diane Arbus’ work; the black and white self-portraits, displaying some sort of darkness around them that make us feel slightly uncomfortable to look at, yet compelled to stare at them. The works show a life of both intimacy and excess, where photography is used to mediate experiences, fears, neuroses and inner battles, similar to the other two artists.
The other two artists were as equally good and interesting to look at with their different type of pictures, however it was these two that stood out to me and were implanted in my memory, which is a key point if you want to win the prize.
Overall the exhibition was worth it, especially for looking at different manners of taking pictures and the reasoning behind it as well.