Eric Gyamfi’s (b. 1990, Ghana) striking portraits have caught the eye of the esteemed jury of this year’s Foam Paul Huf Award, winning the 13th annual award earlier this week. Described as “formal and beautiful, personal and political,” the young Ghanaian photographer’s new work Fixing Shadows; Julius and I takes its starting point from two portraits: one of the transgressive American avant-garde composer Julius Eastman and another of the young artist himself. Through Gyamfi’s interventions, the two photographs mingle and evolve into a series of hybrid images and cyanotypes that span time and place.
It was while he was in Dakar that Gyamfi came across a portrait of Eastman on the cover of a Chimurenga book, marking the beginning of a prolonged encounter with the radical musician, born 50 years before the photographer. “I am interested in what happens to the life of the photograph as it moves through time,” Gyamfi comments. “Employing myth-making as a basis for constructing parallel histories, Fixing shadows; Julius and I, shows the lives of two photographs, mapped/permutated through different times, encounters and potentialities, as they move towards a certain death.”
Open to talents under the age of 35, the prestigious prize consists of €20,000, a solo show at Foam in Amsterdam, and inclusion in Foam Magazine‘s Talent Issue and travelling exhibition. Chosen from a vast pool of 100 nominees from 24 countries, it’s the way Gyamfi merges personal and political in his work that set him apart from other entries. In their own words, Foam comments: “We found a Trojan horse-like approach to his practice—beautiful, formal qualities with varied methods of production and a non-linear approach—which was refreshing and significant.”