Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2022

The four artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2022 are Deana Lawson, Gilles Peress, Jo Ractliffe and Anastasia Samoylova.

This year’s shortlisted artists offer very distinctive approaches to visual storytelling, while collectively tackling some of the most urgent issues facing us today. Despite the difference in perspectives (generational, geographical, racial, cultural) and artistic strategies, each of the shortlisted artists show an acute awareness of their present context, of the burden of history, the problematics of legacy and language (visual or otherwise) and a responsibility to address their own position in relation to their subject matter.

The exhibition is on show at The Photographers’ Gallery, London from 25 March – 12 June 2022. Afterwards it will travel to the Deutsche Börse’s headquarters in Eschborn/Frankfurt and be on display from 30 June 2022.

Deana Lawson was announced as the 2022 winner of the prestigious £30,000 prize at a special ceremony at The Photographers’ Gallery in London, on Thursday 12 May 2022. The other finalists received £5,000 each – an increase from previous years when the award fund was £3,000 each. 


This year’s jury consisted of: Yto Barrada, artist, Jessica Dimson, The New York Times Deputy Director of Photography, Yasufumi Nakamori, Tate Modern’s International Art (Photography) Senior Curator, Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director of Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, and Brett Rogers, OBE, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, as voting chair.


Deana Lawson, Chief, 2019 © Deana Lawson, Courtesy of Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York; David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles

Deana Lawson

Deana Lawson is shortlisted for her exhibition “Centropy” at Kunsthalle, Basel (9 June – 11 October 2020).

An exhibition of photographs, mostly large-scale and spanning 2013 - 2020, 16mm projections, rock crystals and holograms arrayed in a dense constellation, “Centropy” conveys immediacy and immanence. Deana Lawson (b. 1979, Rochester, New York) evokes the language of the vernacular family photo album and the art-historical masterwork in meticulously choreographed portraits that are at once familiar and painterly. The richly textured domestic settings are embellished with uncanny details; peeling wallpaper and tired couches, but also the destabilizing presence of devotional objects and what the artist refers to as ‘portals’. ‘I’m actually trying to image the mythic realm’, Lawson explains, ‘to use the person as a vehicle to represent an entity beyond what is actually present’.

Gilles Peress, Whatever You Say, Say Nothing: from the chapter, The Last Night © Gilles Peress, Courtesy of artist

Gilles Peress

Gilles Peress is shortlisted for the publication “Whatever You Say, Say Nothing”, published by Steidl, 2021.

Gilles Peress (b. 1946, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France) first travelled to Northern Ireland in the 1970s, after the reintroduction of internment in 1971, and prior to and during the Bloody Sunday massacre in 1972. He returned in the 1980s with the intention of describing everything as a way of testing the limits of visual language to record and understand the intractable conflict. The resulting publication, “Whatever You Say, Say Nothing”, is a work of monumental achievement and complexity. Across 2,000 pages, two volumes of images, and an accompanying almanac of contextual material, Peress presents a ‘documentary fiction’. A decade of photographs is organised across 22 ‘semi-fictional days’: Days of Struggle, Day of Internment, Double Cross Days, but also days where nothing happens ... boring days, days that never end. “Whatever You Say, Say Nothing” delineates the helicoidal structure of history, ‘where today is not only today but all the days like today’. It describes existence and experience in a space ritualised by recurring violence, while striving for the savage nature of photography that exists in the no man’s land beyond accepted forms.

Jo Ractliffe, Roadside stall on the way to Viana, 2007 from the series Terreno Ocupado © Jo Ractliffe, Courtesy of the artist

Jo Ractliffe

Jo Ractliffe is shortlisted for her publication “Photographs 1980s – now”, published by Steidl/The Walther Collection, 2021.

For more than three decades, South African photographer Jo Ractliffe (b. 1961, Cape Town, South Africa) has trained her lens on the landscape of her homeland. Her nominated project is the comprehensive monograph “Photographs 1980s – now”, which comprises major photoessays, early works and newly published images, steeped in literary reference. Presented chronologically, and introduced by the artist’s direct, almost diaristic, texts, Ractliffe’s images bear witness to the complexities of a country scarified by the violence of Apartheid, as well as the aftermath of civil war in neighbouring Angola. These stark images are set apart from social documentary. Ractliffe is drawn to quiet poetics, not direct political address. Decommissioned military outposts, makeshift dwellings stalked by stray dogs; her distinctive visual language is marked by desolation and absence. As sites of massacre, forced removal and violence, these images are neither silent nor empty. A signature style is observed in “Photographs 1980s – now”, with favoured techniques, such as ‘filmstrip’-like sequences or photographing with plastic and toy cameras, used by Ractliffe to capture life -or its lack– on the open road. Though black-and-white images predominate, there are also important forays into colour photography and experiments with photomontage and video. 

Anastasia Samoylova, Pink Sidewalk, 2017, from the series FloodZone © Anastasia Samoylova, Courtesy of artist

Anastasia Samoylova

Anastasia Samoylova is shortlisted for her exhibition “FloodZone” at the Multimedia Art Museum, Moscow (8 June - 28 July 2021).

“FloodZone” is an expansive and ongoing photographic series, responding to environmental changes in America’s coastal cities, with a particular focus on Florida, where the artist has lived since 2016. Anastasia Samoylova (b.1984, Moscow, Russia) finds herself between paradise and catastrophe, but her record of climate crisis is less inclined to direct reportage than lyrical evocation. The colour palette is tropical and pastel-pretty, but there is peril too - rot, wear and decay. Samoylova pays particular attention to the proliferation of aspirational imagery that forms the region’s official iconography, but which exists in stark contrast to the realities of encroaching environmental disaster. From aerial views of saturated topography to close-up observations of architecture, displaced fauna and resilient flora, Samoylova captures the ‘seductive and destructive dissonance’ of a region deeply invested in its own image and sunny allure, while dangerously impacted by rising sea levels, storm surges and coastal erosion, brought about by climate change.


The Cube Eschborn, 2022 © Robert Schittko