Aperture Foundation, in collaboration with The Photographers’ Gallery and the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, is pleased to present the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2017, featuring works from the shortlisted artists: Sophie Calle, Awoiska van der Molen, duo Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, and this year’s winner, Dana Lixenberg, who was awarded the prize, worth £30,000 GBP, in May of this year. This marks the first exhibition of the prize in the United States.
Awoiska van der Molen, #364-18, 2013 © Awoiska van der Molen, Courtesy of the artist, Purdy Hicks Gallery and Kristof De Clercq gallery
The twentieth iteration of the prize, one of the most prestigious international arts awards, celebrates established photographic narratives alongside experimental and conceptual approaches to documentary, landscape, and portraiture. A jury including Susan Bright, curator; Pieter Hugo, artist; Karolina Ziębińska-Lewandowska, curator of photography at Centre Pompidou, Paris; Anne-Marie Beckmann, director, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation; and Brett Rogers, director, The Photographers’ Gallery, as the non-voting chair, selected the four finalists featured. All of these artists investigate questions of truth and fiction, doubt and certainty, what constitutes the real and ideal, and the relationship between observer and the observed.
The opening of this exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery in London, began an international tour of the show that went on to exhibit at the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, and subsequently at Aperture Foundation.
This year’s exhibition is curated by Anna Dannemann, Curator, The Photographer’s Gallery.
Dana Lixenberg (b. 1964, the Netherlands) won for her publication Imperial Courts(Roma, 2015). In 1992, Dana Lixenberg traveled to South Central Los Angeles for a magazine story on the riots that erupted following the verdict in the Rodney King trial. What she encountered inspired her to revisit the area, and led her to the community of the Imperial Courts housing project in Watts. Returning countless times over the following twenty-two years, Lixenberg gradually created a collaborative portrait of the changing face of this community. Over the years, some in the community were killed, while others disappeared or went to jail, and others, once children in early photographs, grew up and had children of their own. In this way, Imperial Courts constitutes a complex and evocative record of the passage of time in an underserved community.
Sophie Calle (b. 1953, France) was nominated for her publication My All (Actes Sud, 2016), which finds the artist experimenting with yet another medium: the postcard set. Taking stock of her entire oeuvre, this set of postcards functions as a beautiful portfolio of Calle’s work, as well as a new investigation of it, in an appropriately nomadic format. Over the past thirty years, Sophie Calle has invited strangers to sleep in her bed, followed a man through the streets of Paris to Venice, hired a detective to spy on her before providing a report of her day, and asked blind people to tell her about the final image they remember. In her practice, she has orchestrated small moments of life, establishing a game, then setting its rules for herself and for others.
Calle’s Exquisite Pain is an installation in two parts that unfolds stories of devastating personal experiences as a means of reexamining and, ultimately, exorcising grief. The first part of the project presents Calle’s journey preceding “the unhappiest moment of [her] whole life,” told through collected photos and ephemera of ninety-two days that the artist saw as a countdown to romantic rejection. Each photograph or document is stamped with a number indicating the remaining amount of “days until unhappiness.” The second part of the exhibition pairs Calle’s story, told repeatedly from several different angles, with others’ recollections of their own pain and heartache. Through recursive recitation and empathy, the project explores the universality of pain and resilience.
Awoiska van der Molen (b. 1972, the Netherlands) was nominated for her exhibition Blanco at Foam, Amsterdam (January 22–April 3, 2016). Van der Molen creates black- and-white, abstracted images that revitalize the genre of landscape photography. Spending long periods of time in solitude and silence in foreign landscapes, from Japan to Norway to Crete, she explores the identity of the place, allowing it to impress upon her its specific emotional and physical qualities and her personal experience within it. With this intuitive approach, Van der Molen aims to find a pure form of representing her surroundings, by focusing on the essential elements in and around her. Her work questions how natural and man-made environments are commonly represented and interacted with.
Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs (both b. 1979, Switzerland) were nominated for their exhibition EURASIA at Fotomuseum Winterthur (October 24, 2015–March 14, 2016). EURASIA playfully draws on the iconography of the road trip, constructing experiences drawn from memory and imagination. Onorato and Krebs’s journey begins in Switzerland, continues through the Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia, and ends in Mongolia. Throughout their travels the duo encounters landscapes and people in a state of ongoing transition from ancient traditions and post-Communist structures to modernity and the formation of an independent identity. Using a mix of analogue media and techniques including 16 mm films, large-format plate cameras, and installation-based interventions, Onorato and Krebs compose a narrative that is as much fiction as documentation.
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