Returning for a second year, these awards aimed to recognize and reward visionary artists using photographic processes and images in their work.
Our global call out sought to find those who are truly pushing the boundaries of the medium through experimentation and creative innovation. After a lengthy judging process, we’re thrilled to be finally be able to share our amazing discoveries!
Congratulations to our six winners, 25 finalists, and seven juror’s picks! Hailing from 17 countries on six continents, these 38 photographers are an inspiring reflection of the visual mastery, innovation and contemporary creativity of the LensCulture community.
These panoramic photographs of rooftops are taken from carefully chosen and often symbolic viewpoints in capital cities across the European Union. García considers rooftops to be the epidermis of the city because it is here where the dependencies of its’ inhabitants are found: heat, energy, communications, and water. The photographer digitally paints the photographs, creating conceptual maps that mark the tension between shared resources and these dependencies’, and the search for privacy, personal, national, and continental identity in Europe today.
Drawing from reality, the voice of prisoners and their families, and the social context of incarceration, this work transcends the purely documentary and asks us to question how we see and think of images of incarceration and the absence of loved ones. Made in collaboration with Grain Projects and HM Prison Birmingham, the enigmatic images show where pain exists. They communicate desperation, the desire for freedom, loneliness, nightmare and question the world we live in and the system in which these experiences are sustained.
This series eloquently explores the relationship between memory and architecture, and how photography can mediate it. In collaboration with an engineer, an architect and a designer, the artist has created complex work that pushes the boundaries of documentary and conceptual photography, while exploring the medium’s possibilities with technology. The series is refreshing and important new work that critically comments on Cuba’s past and future.
‘Turistica’ is an intriguing, well-developed body of work that immediately set itself apart from other submissions. The lonely landscapes and mysterious portraits beg you to look more closely. I selected this work because I found myself coming back to the images over and over, eager to see more from the project.
For twenty years, vernacular photography enjoyed a growing success among collectors and museums. Artists also seized these daily life archives, as has this photographer. The way in which Walter uses archival materials reminds me of surrealism or Bauhaus photography. The images never die, they are recycled and given a new life.
Lluís Estopiñan has created a rich, multi-layered work of art that evokes the ever-shifting nature of human memory, and how we often rely on photographs to stimulate or create memories. One of the points being that photographs themselves are unreliable witnesses, with limited points of view, and they are also subject to change, fade and deteriorate over time. This is a quiet work that speaks volumes.
Julia SH’s portraits, from her 2017 series ‘Studio Practice - Body Positivity’, caught my attention, especially because of their staged quality. She has succeeded in breaking through the stereotypical image of women by photographing full-bodied women as living sculptures. I found this portrait particularly beautiful and powerful.
Dr Yasufumi Nakamori is the Senior Curator of International Art (Photography) where he leads the development of Tate’s collection of photography and the programme of photography exhibitions and displays. Prior to that, Nakamori headed the department of photography and new media at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, developing new displays of photography and time-based media within the context of a global encyclopaedic art museum. He was also responsible for numerous key acquisitions which transformed and diversified the museum’s photography collection. He previously served as curator of photography at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from 2008 to 2016, creating ground-breaking exhibitions such as Katsura: Picturing Modernism in Japanese Architecture, Photographs by Ishimoto Yasuhiro, and many others. He is a 2016 fellow of the Getty Leadership Institute, holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Wisconsin, an MA in Contemporary Art from Hunter College, the City University of New York, and a PhD in the History of Art and Visual Studies from Cornell University.
Kristen Gresh is the Estrellita and Yousuf Karsh Curator of Photographs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA). She is an experienced curator, researcher, and lecturer in the field of photography and digital media. Gresh is the author of the award-winning book She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World and Graciela Iturbide’s Mexico. Prior to working at the MFA, she was curator of 20th century photography collections in both Paris and Cairo, where she also taught history of photography. She has received multiple grants and awards for her research and publications including a Magnum Foundation Legacy Grant, Terra Foundation Grant, Rockefeller Grant, Fulbright Award and the IndieFab Foreword’s Book of the Year awards “Nonfiction Editor’s Choice Prize 2013.”
Since March 2000, Xavier Canonne has been the director of the Musée de la Photographie in Charleroi, Belgium. Before coming to the Musée, he was the director of the collection of the Province of the Hainaut (modern and contemporary art) from 1987 to 2000. He has curated many exhibitions and has edited and written various books and studies. He had curated several exhibitions, among them Intimate Man Ray (2003); Scenes of Atget (2004); Lee Miller a Life (2005); and Surrealism in Belgium in the Fine Arts Museum in Mons-BAM (March—April, 2007). Canonne is the publisher of the review "Marées de la Nuit". He is the author of the several books, including Looking at the U.S. – 1957—1986, published in 2009; Requiem pour un homme seul, Le Samouraï de Jean-Pierre Melville, 2010; and René Magritte, The revealing images, published in 2017. Xavier Canonne received his Doctorate in Art History and Archaeology from the Sorbonne University in Paris, with a doctoral thesis dedicated to Surrealism in Belgium.
Christopher McCall is the director of Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco, one of the largest exhibition spaces devoted to photography. In 2002, McCall received his MFA in Photography from California College of the Arts, studying under Jim Goldberg and Larry Sultan. After teaching for seven years, he joined Pier 24 Photography in 2009 as the inaugural director, assisting in the conceptualization of the organization’s mission and operating principles. Since opening the doors of Pier 24, McCall has overseen the presentation of five exhibitions and spearheaded the creation of the Larry Sultan Visiting Artist Program, a program in collaboration with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and California College of the Arts.
Born in Germany in 1967, Gunther Dietrich studied philosophy and comparative literature at the University of Stuttgart before turning to art with a focus on photography at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hamburg (HfBK) and Berlin (HDK). He has many years of self-employment in the fields of film, content management, publication, media design, and all aspects of the art market, and has been Director of Photo Edition Gallery, an international art gallery for contemporary photography in Berlin, since 2008.
Before being named Artistic Director at La Fabrica in 2014, Oliva Maria Rubio was Director of Exhibitions and General Curator of PHotoEspaña (PHE), Madrid´s international photography and visual arts festival, where she programmed approximately 60 exhibitions. A thought-leader in the industry, Oliva has been a juror on several major international photography awards and her essays appear in catalogues, magazines and newspapers. She is the author of La mirada interior. El surrealismo y la pintura (Madrid, Tecnos, 1994) and holds a doctorate in History and Theory of Art from Madrid’s Autonomous University.
Jim Casper is the editor-in-chief of LensCulture, one of the leading online destinations to discover contemporary photography from around the world. As an active member in the contemporary photography world, Casper organizes annual international photography events, travels around the world to meet with photographers and review their portfolios, curates art exhibitions, writes about photography and culture, lectures, conducts workshops, serves as an international juror and nominator for key awards, and is an advisor to arts and education organizations.
Congratulations to all 38 photographers! And to everyone who entered, thank you. We are inspired by the work you do and we are always delighted to discover how image makers around the globe are working with photography in new ways.
We look forward to seeing more of your work in the future!