This year’s Deutche Börse Photography Prize exhibition opens tommorrow – July 13 – at London’s Photographers’ Gallery. The annual competition was was founded in 1996 by the gallery and since 2005 had run in collaboration with the Deutche Börse Group (hence the name). It aims to reward £30,000 to a contemporary photographer of any nationality who has made the most significant contribution to photography this past year – either in the contexts of publication or exhibition.
Last year went to Jim Goldberg and this year’s shortlisted quartet, and the projects they have been recognised for, goes as follows…
Rinko Kawauchi: Illuminance
Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi’s images are steeped in light and soft colour palettes, aiming to stir the heart of the viewer with each evocation of nature, space, and time. These works – products of fifteen years of her practice – have a dreamlike, cinematographic quality to them; the sense of sanctuary and meditation is extremely absorbing.
John Stezaker: Exhibition, Whitechapel Gallery
British artist John Stezaker combines and juxtaposes various found imagery to arresting effect. Concentrating on glamorous visuals from Hollywood’s Golden Era, his work challenges our understanding and consumption of “icons” and emphasises the impacts and illusions of photography to remind us of its masking capabilities. Our eyes often composes the “whole” image before we realise that part of the image is not at all what it initially seems. His use of collage highlights the potential and limitations of photography, and his reconfigurations of a variety of pictorial data lend them new life.
Pieter Hugo: Permanent Error – published by Prestel
Hugo’s images focus on the people and landscape of a dumping ground outside the Agogbloshie slum, on the outskirts of wasteland Accra, Ghana. Much of the waste is technological, and the images combine those artifacts of our extremely recent 21st-century past with the lifestyle of its inhabitants – who survive largely by burning the electronic devices to extract copper and other metals. The resulting contamination of rivers and lagoons is cause for environmental concern, and the terrible clash of cast-aside remnants of fast-track technological advance with such deprivation is extremely unsettling.
Christopher Williams: Kapitalistischer Realismus, Dům umění České Budějovice, Budweis, Czech Republic
Christopher William’s work concentrates on the political, and, like Hugo, focuses on technological artifacts – in a sense. He creates images of cameras, models, and other technical equipment – and has been doing so for the past 40 years. His approach questions photography – particularly that filtered through, and consumed via, advertising, political inclination, and the media, and he draws reference from the work of Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter in his presentation of a variety of visual material about the Cold War.
We all have our favourites in the studio – but who do you think will win? The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2012 will be exhited at The Photographers’ Gallery from July 13 – September 9.