ENTRY DEADLINE: JANUARY 30, 2012
JUROR: Ashley Givens, Assistant Curator, Victoria and Albert Museum, UK
Thank you to all of the photographers who submitted work. It was a delight to take part as a juror and to engage with such strong and diverse work.
The selections that I have made reflect the range of material submitted: they are varied in their approaches and outcomes. From a series of compelling portraits of prisoners to a group of images that form a portrait of a place, and finally to prints that engage with the practice of photography, the three final projects are original and impressive, each in its own way.
JUROR: Jamie Wellford, Senior Photo Editor, Newsweek Magazine
The daunting task of selecting three recipients from hundreds of talented photographers seems a parable for the medium itself – celebrating a remarkable but only a small fraction of creativity in space and time. I am humbled in my attempt to focus this bright field, but very impressed by the incredible work I have seen and excited and deeply intrigued by the projects and ideas that will be pursued, developed, and realized in the future by this talented group of photographers. With this in mind, I want to thank everyone at CENTER for enabling the mad, wonderful, and brilliant mix of imagination at play in this award. And, to everyone who had the courage to participate, I give all my thanks and encouragement to continue applying their skills to the extraordinary world of visual storytelling.
It takes abundant curiosity, persistence, incredible patience, and keen perception to engage in a visual dialogue. The three photographers I have selected not only embody this pursuit, but also reveal meaningful instants that exemplify this combination of creativity, adaptation, and resilience.
Merritt Hewitt’s chronicle of the streets in NYC is a moment of quiet amongst the deafening cacophony of the street. He is able to untangle the endless movement and flow of an urban scene to focus acute and dramatically emotional moments in the individual(s) moving among the mass. There is a tension and wonderful immediacy in the personality of his frames, an extraordinary ability to capture the fleeting second. Merritt creates a simultaneously everyday yet theatrical cartography, revealing how the little moments of our own private experiences all contribute to the incredible composition of life.
Wyatt Gallery challenges the preconceived notions of life in aftermath. In addition to penetrating work from tsunami devastated Sri Lanka and the ravaged world left by Hurricane Katrina, Wyatt has managed to capture scenes of remarkable endurance and resilience within the tent homes of Haitians displaced by the tragic earthquake. His images portray a surreal fortitude, of a beauty salon made of tarps, or of a mother and child beatified by the brilliant light of a white tent. Altogether, his is a unique and sensitive tableaux remarkable for both its spiritual implication as well as its narrative intention.
Though the thought of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba conjures images of grainy Interpol mugshots and hooded detainees, Mathias Braschler and Monika Fischer have created sensitive and revealing portraits of those imprisoned amidst the war on terror. It is a deeply psychological and compelling body of work, shocking yet absorbing in its presentation of individuals once deliberately dehumanized. The men of these portraits have a remarkable presence that reclaims an identity once lost and misunderstood, leaving only a piercing stare to suggest the traumatic experience of incarceration.
Once again, I want to thank everyone involved in this award for all their energy and inspiration. All best wishes for a creative 2012.
JUROR: Stefanie Braun, Senior Curator, The Photographer's Gallery, UK
Photography is currently at a really exciting stage and the malleable and progressive nature of the medium was very palpable in the works presented here. Some projects dealt with uneasy subject matters with great sensitivity and thoughtfulness, others were more lighthearted and even humorous which was great to see. It was fantastic to experience documentary photography and photo journalism next to fine art photography, highlighting how equally important and enriching they can be.
Narrowing it down to the last 20 was not easy. There were many bodies of work that were visually powerful and at the same time highlighted a subject matter I had not considered before; someone’s story that I might have otherwise never encountered, and I am very grateful for having had this opportunity of spending time with these portfolios. Ultimately, I was looking for strong consistency and coherence in the presented bodies of work and images that were visually arresting as well as innovative. In addition, there needed to be something that intrigued me, that hooked me, a quality quite elusive and difficult to explain and therefore, I have to admit, very subjective. Most importantly though is that the work is asking questions about the world we live in and I found that all of these qualities were present in the winning bodies of work. Although I had no intention of creating a theme when looking for the three winners I realized that Andrea Stultiens, George Awde and Nigel Bennet all deal with non-western lifestyles and wrestle with social and political issues in their work, albeit in very different ways.
First place goes to Andrea Stultiens whose practice is difficult to categorise which makes it intriguing from the start. Stultiens is using photographic narratives to better understand the relationship between Africa and the West. Working with found photographs, she creates new and unexpected meanings by re-categorising and editing vernacular images and mixing them with her own photographs, research and writings. The second place goes to George Awde, an American-born artist from Lebanese descent, whose work thoughtfully deals with Middle-Eastern masculinity, issues of national identity and the idea of home. Third place goes to Nigel Bennet whose beautiful filmic portraits bridge the gap between the private and the public and operate somewhere between documentary and fiction.
Finally a big thank you to all the photographers who submitted their work. It was amazing to see such a variety of approaches and subject matters – I thoroughly enjoyed looking through each of the bodies of work.
// 2012 Gallerist's Choice Winner