Susan Meiselas Wins the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2019

Friday, May 17, 2019
Susan Meiselas Wins the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2019

Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas was announced as the 2019 winner of the prestigious £30,000 prize at a special award ceremony at The Photographers’ Gallery, London for her first European retrospective Mediations at Jeu de Paume, Paris 2018.

Image: Susan Meiselas, Nicaragua, 1978


Susan Meiselas has won the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2019 at The Photographers’ Gallery, London for her first European retrospective Mediations at Jeu de Paume, Paris 2018.

Magnum photographer Susan Meiselas was announced as the 2019 winner of the prestigious £30,000 prize at a special award ceremony at The Photographers’ Gallery, on Thursday 16th May by British Turkish award winning writer and activist Elif Shafak.


Susan Meiselas, NORTHERN IRAQ. Kurdistan. 1991. At Sardaw, a former Iraqi military headquarters on the outskirts of Sulaimaniya, trench graves are dug up to reveal the remains of executed Iranian prisoners of war. A total of 18 Iranian soldiers were found executed in violation of the Geneva Conventions. An additional 13 civilians were found buried beside them.


Meiselas was deemed to have made a consistently outstanding contribution to photography, influencing the way that audiences encounter and understand the form and exemplifying a commitment and personal investment to her subject matter and subjects that has left an indelible mark on the history of photography.

A leading documentary photographer, Meiselas is widely acknowledged for her work in the conflict zones of Central America (1978–1983), and in particular for her powerful photographs of the Nicaraguan revolution. Drawing on more than four decades of experience photographing around the world, Meiselas favours an immersive approach, often collaborating with the communities she photographs over long periods of time, and has focused on a wide range of challenging issues from ethnic and religious conflicts, human rights issues to the sex industry. Mediations was the most comprehensive European retrospective of Meiselas’ work to date, which brought together series’ from the 1970s to the present day.


Susan Meiselas, KURDISTAN. December, 1991. Arbil Taymour Abdullah, 15, the only survivor of village  execution, shows his bullet wound


For The Photographers’ Gallery exhibition, Meiselas chose to present her long-term engagement with the Kurdish diasporaKurdistan/akaKurdistan began with a trip the photographer took to capture Anfal genocide against the Iraqi Kurds in 1991 and began a project offering a layered, lived history of Kurdistan, driven by the momentum of its contributors with whom she continues to collaborate with.

The 2019 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize jury comprised:

Sunil Gupta, Artist, Writer, Activist and Curator; Diane Dufour, Director of Le Bal, Paris; Felix Hoffmann, Chief Curator at C/O Berlin; Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, Frankfurt; Brett Rogers OBE, Director, The Brett Rogers OBE, Director, The Photographers’ Gallery and Chair of Jury, said:

Susan’s consistent approach to the medium and her personal investment in the stories, histories and communities she documents, exemplifies a critical revision to the possibilities of documentary photography. It is one that proposes a sustainable and on-going relationship with the people and their contexts and feels especially relevant and resonant today.


Susan Meiselas,  1978 , NICARAGUA. Matagalpa. Muchachos await the counterattack by the National Guard



Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, said:

We congratulate the winner, Susan Meiselas, whose varied and highly topical work reflects a heightened commitment to the photographic form whilst recognising the photographer’s responsibility to the issues and subjects. We are very much looking forward to presenting the exhibition at our premises this summer as part of a special program on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Art Collection Deutsche Börse.

The work of all 2019 shortlisted artists, Laia Abril, Arwed Messmer, Susan Meiselas and Mark Ruwedel, remains on display at The Photographers’ Gallery until 2 June 2019. The show will then tour to the Deutsche Börse's headquarters in Eschborn/Frankfurt from 14 June until 23 August 2019.


Susan Meiselas, Dee and Lisa 1976


The 2019 shortlist explores a vast range of topical issues through the lens and language of photography. Collectively their projects explore state and gender politics, social injustice, human rights and conceptual approaches to image making. This year’s projects reflect the experimental possibilities of photography, the documentation and research behind presenting such work, and how images can change their meaning and identity according to how they might be presented.

The annual award was originated by The Photographers’ Gallery, London, in 1996 and subsequently awarded together with the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, a non-profit organisation specifically focused on the collecting, exhibiting and promoting of contemporary photography. The £30,000 prize rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format in Europe, which is felt to have significantly contributed to the medium of photography between 1 October 2017 and 30 September 2018.

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