Deutsche Börse Prize 2014 – The Photographers’ Gallery

While at The Photographers’ Gallery I also took a moment to look at the current Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, an annual prize that rewards a photographer who has made the most significant contribution to photography in Europe in the previous 12 months.  Set up in 1996 by the gallery itself it was intended to promote the finest of contemporary photography. Won previously by the likes of Richard Billingham, Andreas Gursky, and Robert Adams the prize in considered to be one of the most prestigious in Europe.

The shortlisted artists for this years prize were:

Alberto Garcia-Alix, he was nominated for his publication ‘Autorretrato/Selfportrait’. The book consists of black and white portraits that document the life of the artist for nearly 40 years and give an insight into life at key moments of Spanish history, the end of the Franco dictatorship, new liberties of the 70’s and onto the present. The images themselves are a brilliant collection each individually characterful with each element of black and white photography considered, from shape, texture, and form.

Jochen Lempert, he was nominated for his self titles exhibition at the Hamburger Kunshthalle in 2013, using photography form the early 1990’s he has been studying humans and the natural world, an interest that has come from his training as a biologist. As with the previous participant the work is entirely in black and white, with a very precise yet fluid feel the images also have a humours element. His use of visual alliteration and abstract composition builds an impressive body of work that kept me questioning what I was seeing.

Lorna Simpson, an American photographer nominated for her self titled retrospective, exhibited in Paris in 2014. She firmly links photography with video and text while exploring important themes of identity, culture, memory and the body. Her work began with a collection of found photographs, an unknown subject is seen posing and creating what seems to be a model portfolio across Los Angeles in the late 1950’s. Simpson then inserts black and white photographers of herself into the series. She maintains a narrative with this technique not only about her usual but also on being ageless.

The winner of the prize was Richard Mosse, an Irish photographer whose exhibition called ‘The Enclave’ was shown at the Venice Biennale, Irish Pvaillion. The photographs are a beautifully haunting documentation of landscape which has been spoilt by human tragedy and war in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Using discontinued military surveillance film the images register an invisible spectrum of infrared light which creates a disorientating colour scheme of the war zone. Horrific yet captivating the images grab your attention and force you to consider the suffering and effect of war.


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