Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2009

The winner of the annual Deutsche Börse Photography Prize was announced on 25 March 2009: Paul Graham. Other photographers, who were shortlisted for this year’s prize, are: Emily Jacir, Tod Papageorge und Taryn Simon.

The Photographers’ Gallery in London was the opening venue for the exhibition between 20 February – 12 April 2009. Later in 2009 the exhibition will be shown at the C/O Berlin and between 28 August – 11 October 2009 at the Deutsche Börse Group headquarters in Frankfurt.

The Jury

The Jury this year was: David Campany, Writer/Lecturer, University of Westminster, UK; David Goldblatt, Photographer, South Africa; Chus Martínez, Chief Curator, Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain; and Anne-Marie Beckmann, Curator, Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Germany. The Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, Brett Rogers was the non-voting Chair.

The Shortlist

Untitled, 2007; © Paul Graham.

Paul Graham

(born in 1956 in the UK) was nominated for his publication “A Shimmer of Possibility” (steidlMACK, Oct 07). Graham has always challenged the medium of photography. He works with its very nature, its dependence on light, its recognition of detail, its document of the moment. His social commitment and historical perspective is as unrelenting as his pictorial brilliance is illuminating. He has always sought the telling trace hinting at the broader picture, leaving out as much as he puts in. A Shimmer of Possibility assembles images from everyday life in today’s America, a kind of filmic allusion to the Japanese verse form haiku where nothing much happens but nothing is foreclosed. What do you think or see when you walk down the street? How does that make your experience and how much is it made by your experiences? The photographs don’t tell us what to see but remind us how we see. They reveal the power of the passing encounter, the need to be aware and the richness of experience to be extracted from the everyday.

Installation shot of 'Material For A Film' (2005 - ongoing, multimedia installation); © Alexander and Bonin, New York.

Emily Jacir

(b. 1970 in Kuwait) was shortlisted for her multimedia installation “Material For A Film” featured in the 2007 Venice Biennale. Jacir’s work is dedicated to history, resistance and the power of artists and intellectuals to transform theory into practice. The strength of her oeuvre lies in her combination of opposites, seamlessly exchanging the sublime and the banal, the sentimental and the cynical, the spontaneous and the studious, the poetic and the political within a single piece. Her ongoing work is inspired by the fate of Palestinian intellectuals in 1972/73, when, within a year, more than a dozen Palestinians living in Europe, most of them artists and intellectuals were killed by Israeli agents in response to the Olympic Games massacre in Munich. To this day, these occurrences are still part of Palestinians’ collective memory: “I had always known these stories growing up,” says Jacir. “These stories haunt us. And I had always known I wanted to do a piece on the 13 artists and intellectuals who were killed in Europe between 1972 and 1973.”

Untitled (25)

Tod Papageorge

(b. 1940 in the US) was nominated for his 2008 exhibition “Passing Through Eden: Photographs of Central Park” in the Michael Hoppen Gallery in London. He lived in New York City for more than 25 years. “Passing Through Eden” is a body of photographs produced between 1966-1992. The earliest pictures were taken with 35mm cameras. In 1977 Papageorge turned to medium-format cameras to more compellingly describe the light of the park and, particularly, how that light could so gorgeously illuminate the shifting population of bodies sprawled in the often untended grass that flourished in the park at that time. For all the intensity and sensuousness of these core images, however, Passing Through Eden ultimately succeeds as a landmark body of work because of the almost-Shakespearian range of its vision, the ability to capture an astonishing variety of gesture, uncanny photographic beauty, and raw emotional truth.

White Tiger (Kenny), 2007; © Taryn Simon, Steid/Gagosian.

Taryn Simon

(b. 1975 in New York) assumes for her project “An American Index of the Hidden and Unfamiliar” the dual role of shrewd informant and collector of curiosities, compiling an inventory of what lies hidden and out-of-view within the borders of the United States. She examines a culture through careful documentation of diverse subjects from the realms of science, government, medicine, entertainment, nature, security and religion. Through text and image, the work underscores the complicated relationship between a photograph and its context. The visual is processed aesthetically and then re-defined by its text. Her sometimes ethereal, sometimes foreboding compositions, shot over a four year period, vary as much as her subject matter, which ranges from radioactive capsules at a nuclear waste storage facility to a black bear in hibernation. In examining that which is integral to America’s foundation, mythology and daily functioning, Simon creates a collection of works that reflect and reveal a national identity.