Monday 15 February 2010

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2010

©Anna Fox

Just opened at The Photographers’ Gallery is an exhibition of the work of Anna Fox, Zoe Leonard, Sophie Ristelhueber and Donovan Wylie - the four shortlisted artists nominated for its annual Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

UK-born photographer Anna Fox has been nominated for her exhibition, 'Cockroach Diary & Other Stories' at Ffotogallery, Cardiff and initiated by Impressions Gallery, Bradford. Dark yet highly comical, the work is a curious blend of stark photographic evidence and written anecdotes that tell the story of a cockroach invasion in a shared house in London where the artist once lived. It is typical of the artists' wider concerns of extracting beauty from both the bizarre and the banal, particularly in relation to domestic British life. A pioneer of exciting colour documentary photography, Fox has undoubtedly helped to redefine the medium in Britain and Europe.

Also in the running for the highly coveted prize is American, Zoe Leonard, who has been selected for her retrospective exhibition, 'ZOE LEONARD: Photographs', at the Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, organised by Fotomuseum Winterthur. Like Fox, she takes a radically different approach to capturing and memorizing seemingly everyday things but her images offer a more subtle, visual look at the world and, in the process, reveal something of its wonderful inarticulated contradictions.

French photographer, Sophie Ristelhueber has been nominated for her retrospective, 'Sophie Ristelhueber' at the Jeu de Paume, Paris. For more than twenty years, Ristelhueber has turned her camera on people and places scarred and shaped by war and has emerged with timeless, deeply affecting images about serious world issues without resorting to tacky sentimentality.

Working with similar notions of territory and history, is the British Magnum photographer Donovan Wylie. The youngest of the four shortlisted artists, Wylie has been chosen for his exhibition 'MAZE 2007/8' at Belfast Exposed for which he spent a period of almost one hundred days photographing inside one of Ireland's most oppressive prisons (The Maze) in the aftermath of its demolition process. The only photographer granted official unlimited access to the site, he has focused on the empty landscapes to investigate the psychology of its architecture.

Brett Rogers, Chair of the Jury and Director of The Photographers' Gallery, said: "The four finalists all manifest a sustained commitment to investigating the nature and role of the photographic image. Each of them, in their own way, explores pertinent ideas around gender, nationality, surveillance and political conflict."

The annual award of £30,000 rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, who has made the most significant contribution, in exhibition or publication format, to the medium of photography in Europe between 1 October 2008 and 30 September 2009. This year's Jury is: Olivia Maria Rubio (Director of Exhibitions, La Fàbrica, Spain); Gilane Tawadros (Chief Executive, Design Artists Copyright Society, curator and writer); James Welling (artist, USA); and Anne-Marie Beckmann (Curator, Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Germany). Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers' Gallery, is the non-voting Chair.

The exhibition went on display at The Photographers' Gallery on 12 February and runs until 18 April 2010, with the winner announced at a special award ceremony on 17 March 2010.

This article was originally published as a news story in the December/January issue of a-n magazine