Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016

Trevor Paglen has been awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016 on 2 June 2016. The other shortlisted artists of this prize were Laura El-Tantawy, Erik Kessels und Tobias Zielony. Their works were exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery London from 15 April until 3 July 2016 and were presented at the Deutsche Börse headquarters in Frankfurt/Eschborn from 02 September until 28 October 2016.

The Jury

The 2016 jury members were David Drake, Director Ffotogallery, Cardiff; New York media artist Alfredo Jaar; Wim van Sinderen, Senior Curator of the The Hague Fotomuseum; Anne-Marie Beckmann, Curator of the Art Collection Deutsche Börse; and Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery as the non-voting Chair.

The Shortlist

Trevor Paglen, They Watch the Moon, 2010, © Trevor Paglen, Courtesy of the artist

Trevor Paglen

(b. 1974, USA) for his exhibition The Octopus at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (20 June - 30 August 2015). Paglen’s project aims to represent complex topics like mass surveillance, data collection, classified satellite and drone activities and the systems of power connected to them. Paglen’s installation comprise images of restricted military and government areas, skylines showing the flight tracks of passing drones, sculptural elements and research assembled in collaboration with scientist, amateur astronomers and human rights activists. Through his work Paglen demonstrates that secrets cannot be hidden from view, but that their traces and structures are visible evidence in the landscape.

Laura El-Tantawy, Women of Tahrir, 2013 (28 June 2013, Cairo, Egypt) ©Laura El-Tantawy, Courtesy of the artist

Laura El-Tantawy

(b. 1980, UK/Egypt) for her self-published photobook In the Shadow of the Pyramids (2015). In images that span from 2005 to 2014, this project depicts the atmosphere and rising tensions in Cairo in the events leading to and during the January revolution in Tahrir Square (2011-13). El-Tantawy grew up between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the US, with In the Shadow of the Pyramids she explores parallel narratives of her own family’s history with the search for identity of a troubled nation. She combines old family photographs and her own lyrical witness accounts with close up portraits of protestors and streets scenes that vividly express the violence and euphoria of the crowds.

Erik Kessels, Unfinished Father, 2015, © Erik Kessels, Courtesy of the artist

Erik Kessels

(b. 1966, The Netherlands) for his exhibition Unfinished Father at Fotografia Europea, Reggio Emilia, Italy (15 May – 31 July 2015). In Unfinished Father Kessels reflects upon the fragmented realities of loss, memory and a life come undone as a result of his father’s debilitating stroke. Kessels uses his father’s unfinished restoration project of an old Fiat 500 as a representation of his current condition. He brings pieces of the unassembled body of the Topolino car into the exhibition space and presents it alongside photographs of car parts and images that were taken by his father.

Tobias Zielony, The Citizen, 2015, © Tobias Zielony, Courtesy of KOW Berlin, Lia Rumma, Naples and the artist

Tobias Zielony

(b. 1973, Germany) for The Citizen, exhibited as part of the German Pavilion presentation at the 56th Biennale of Arts, Venice, Italy (9 May - 22 November 2015). Mostly taken in Berlin and Hamburg Zielony’s photographs portray the lives and circumstances of African refugee activists living in Europe. Fleeing violence and oppression in their home countries many arrive to the West in search of freedom and security only to find themselves living as outsiders in refugee-camps without legal representation or work permits. Presented alongside the images are first person accounts, interviews and narratives published by Zielony in African newspapers and magazines which report on the immigrants’ experiences and journeys.

In the videos of The Photographers' Gallery London there is more to learn about the work by the four shortlisted photographers.