Photography Prize 2009
Each year, the photography world is treated to an in-depth look at four remarkable, and often diverse, artists who have used photography to create outstanding books or exhibitions in the previous year.
The four finalists for the annual Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 2009 are Paul Graham, Emily Jacir, Tod Papageorge and Taryn Simon. The big winner will be awarded the prize of £30,000 on March 25, 2009.
The key to winning is really about the whole body of work, and how it is presented in totality. The work is on display now at The Photographers' Gallery in London. An excellent catalog, with insightful essays and a beautiful design, has been edited by Stefanie Braun.
Here is a brief introduction to each of the four finalists:
Paul Graham (b. 1956, UK) is nominated for his publication a shimmer of
possibility (steidlMACK, October 2007). a shimmer of possibility comprises twelve
individual volumes of photographic short stories of life in contemporary
America. Graham infuses lyricism into the most mundane of everyday human
activities – fetching mail or lighting a cigarette – and creates
quiet photographic moments, ‘filmic haikus’, which suggest
and hint at a narrative but ultimately remain open-ended. At once poetic
and political, his photographs manage to draw out something truly profound
from the almost-nothingness of everyday life.
Emily Jacir (b. 1970, Kuwait) is nominated for her installation Material
for a film, shown at the Venice Biennale 2007 (7 June – 21 November
2007). Material for a film documents the assassination of the Palestinian
intellectual Wael Zuwaiter by Israeli agents in Rome in 1972 for
what they believed was his role in the massacre of Israeli athletes at
the Summer Olympics of that year. Using photographs, objects, texts and
interviews, Jacir combines the role of archivist, activist, and poet to
create a poignant work of art that is at once intensely personal and deeply
political and bears witness to a culture torn apart by war and displacement.
Tod Papageorge (b. 1940, USA) is nominated for the exhibition Passing
Through Eden – Photographs of Central Park, exhibited at Michael
Hoppen Gallery, London (7 March – 12 April
2008). Taken between 1969 and 1991, Papageorge’s black & white
photographs of Manhattan’s Central Park are less a document of a
place than an urban version of the Garden of Eden. Immersing himself in
the free-flowing life of the park, Papageorge has created a body
of work that joins the grace of ‘street photography’ to the
beauty of exact photographic description, a union that grants his photographs
an expressive breadth ranging from surreal
comedy to intimations of despair.
Taryn Simon (b. 1975, USA) is nominated for her solo exhibition An American
Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar at The Photographers’ Gallery,
London (13 September – 11 November 2007). Assuming the dual role
of shrewd informant and collector of curiosities,
Simon compiles a photographic inventory of what lies hidden and inaccessible
within the borders of the United States. At once chilling and beautiful,
her photographs and texts document diverse subjects from the realms of
science, government, medicine, entertainment, nature, security, and religion.
Examining that which is integral to America's foundation and mythology,
Simon creates a collection of works that reflect on and reveal a national
The Jury this year is:
David Campany (writer/lecturer, University of Westminster, UK)
Goldblatt (photographer, South Africa)
Chus Martínez (Chief Curator, Museu
d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain)
Anne-Marie Beckmann (Curator,
Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Germany).
The Director of The Photographers’
Gallery, Brett Rogers, is the non-voting Chair. He said:
"The finalists this year redefine the medium of photography and
its possibilities as both a conceptual and creative tool. Each, in their
distinct way, attempts to represent the unrepresentable: Taryn Simon in
her compelling dissection of the invisible forces that rule our lives;
Emily Jacir in her installation which proposes new narratives for approaching
recent Palestinian history; Paul Graham whose new series of books encapsulates
the poetry of the everyday; and Tod Papageorge who transforms the subject
of Central Park, New York, into a Shakespearian paean to urban leisure."