The four artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015 are Nikolai Bakharev, Zanele Muholi, Viviane Sassen and Mikhael Subotzky & Patrick Waterhouse.
Works by the shortlisted photographers will be exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery, (17 April – 7 June) , and subsequently presented at the Museum für Moderne Kunst (Museum for Modern Art) in Frankfurt during the RAY 2015 Photo Festival (20 June – 20 September 2015). The winner will be announced at a special award ceremony held at The Photographers’ Gallery on 28 May 2015.
The shortlisted artists were nominated for the following projects:
Nikolai Bakharev (b. 1946, Russia) for his exhibition at the 55th Biennale of Art in Venice (1 June – 24 November 2013).
Viviane Sassen (b. 1972, Netherlands) for her exhibition Umbra at Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (8 March – 1 June 2014).
Mikhael Subotzky (b. 1981, South Africa) and Patrick Waterhouse (b. 1981, UK) for their publication Ponte City (Steidl, 2014).
The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize is an annual prize established by The Photographers’ Gallery, London, in 1996 and awarded in partnership with Deutsche Börse Group since 2005. The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize aims to reward a contemporary photographer of any nationality, who has made the most significant contribution (exhibition or publication) to the medium of photography in Europe in the previous year.
The members of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2015 jury are: Chris Boot, Executive Director, Aperture Foundation; Rineke Dijkstra, artist; Peter Gorschlüter, Deputy Director, MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst and Anne Marie Beckmann, Curator, Art Collection Deutsche Börse. Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, is the non-voting Chair.
Nikolai Bakharev (b. 1946, Russia) for his exhibition at the 55th Biennale of Art in Venice (1 June – 24 November 2013). Bakharev trained as a mechanic before working as a Communal Services Factory photographer in the 1960s. Bakharev’s portraits of bathers on Russian public beaches blur the boundaries between the public and private and set up a tension between composed and spontaneous groupings. They were predominantly taken during the 1980s when the taking and circulation of photographs containing nudity was strictly forbidden. Though the families and couples are wearing bathing suits and seem to be willingly posing, his shots feel furtive, with an undercurrent of subterfuge and eroticism despite the oblique propriety presented.
Zanele Muholi (b. 1972, South Africa) for her publication Faces and Phases 2006 – 2014 (Steidl, 2014). A self-titled “visual activist”, Zanele Muholi’s black and white portraits offer an insight into black LGBTI identity and politics in post-apartheid South Africa. Emphasising a conceptual and personal approach, the uncompromising images and accompanying first-person testimonies reflect the impact of homophobia, discrimination and violence, most notably the “curative rape” of black gay women, which often results in murder. Muholi’s archive of photographs forms an important force in female gay activism.
Viviane Sassen (b. 1972, Netherlands) for her exhibition Umbra at Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (8 March – 1 June 2014), encompassing abstract photography, drawings, light installations accompanied by specially commissioned poems from artist and poet, Maria Barnas. Sassen’s distinctive and experimental approach: image foregrounds in vivid colour alongside stark contrasts of light and shade in sculptural compositions where form and content verge on abstraction. In Umbra, Latin for shadow, the characteristic qualities of Sassen’s work are shown: vibrant colour, deep shadows, here support darker sensibilities, informed by the Jungian notion of the “shadow self”, which taps into personal fear, desire and shame as well as expressing more abstract concepts of the unknown, time and death.
Mikhael Subotzky (b. 1981, South Africa) and Patrick Waterhouse (b. 1981, UK) for their publication Ponte City (Steidl, 2014). The 54-floor apartment block in Johannesburg was built in 1975 for white “sophisticates” under the apartheid and white supremacy regime. During the political transition in the 1990s, it became a refuge for black newcomers and immigrants from all over Africa before decline and neglect led to it being positioned as the prime symbol of urban decay in the city and the epicentre of crime, prostitution and drug dealing. Subotzky and Waterhouse began their project in 2007 working with the remaining residents, after a regeneration project failed. They have created an intimate and deeply evocative social portrait of a culture, building and its community of residents through photographs, architectural plans, and other archival and historical material. An additional sequence of seventeen booklets containing essays and personal stories complete the visual and spatial narrative of this Johannesburg landmark.