Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2024

Lebohang Kganye wins the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2024

Lebohang Kganye was announced as the 2024 winner of the prestigious £30,000 prize at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, on Thursday 16 May 2024. The artist was awarded the Prize for the exhibition “Haufi nyana? I’ve come to take you home” at Foam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (17 February – 21 May 2023).

The influential prize which we present annually together with The Photographers’ Gallery, rewards artists and their projects recognised as having made the most significant contribution to international contemporary photography over the past 12 months.

Lebohang Kganye, Mohlokomedi wa Tora, 2018, Scene 2 © Lebohang Kganye

Shortlist of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2024

The four international artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2024 are VALIE EXPORT, Gauri Gill & Rajesh Vangad, Lebohang Kganye and Hrair Sarkissian. 

The 2024 shortlisted projects all critically engage with urgent concerns, from the remnants of war and conflict, experiences of diasporic communities and decolonisation, to contested land, heritage, equality and gender. Together these artists demonstrate photography’s unique capacity to reveal what is invisible, forgotten or marginalised and imagine a path to redress.

The annual exhibition of shortlisted projects is on show at The Photographers’ Gallery, London from 23 February to 2 June 2024. It will then be on display from 13 June to 22 September 2024 at the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation in Eschborn/Frankfurt.

 

Jury

This year’s Jury are: Rahaab Allana, Curator/Publisher, at Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, New Delhi, India; Quentin Bajac, Director of the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France; Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, Frankfurt/Main, Germany; Laura El-Tantawy, documentary photographer; and Shoair Mavlian, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, London, as voting Chair.

 

VALIE EXPORT – SMART EXPORT Self-Portrait, Gelatin silver print © VALIE EXPORT, Bildrecht Wien, 2023, Photo: Gertraud Wolfschwenger

VALIE EXPORT

VALIE EXPORT – for the exhibition “VALIE EXPORT – The Photographs” at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland (25 February – 29 May 2023) and originated at the Albertina in Vienna. 

VALIE EXPORT (b. 1940, Austria) became notorious from the late 1960s for her radical performances and critical examination of women’s role in society and the arts. Pointing out entrenched patriarchal structures in mass media image culture, her fearless artistic practice exposes the role representation plays in the construction of gender, sexuality and social norms.

Through photographs, filmic works and installations, EXPORT deals with key issues including the body and the gaze, performance and the image, and subject and environment. Photography has played a pivotal role in her work, from documentation to multimedia installations and single works. EXPORT also often staged performances for the camera, with the intention of deconstructing the photographic gaze and its implicit power structures. 

For over 50 years, VALIE EXPORT has influenced generations of female artists. In ground-breaking works such as “Aktionshose: Genitalpanik” (“Action Pants: Genital Panic”, 1969), “TAPP und TASTKINO” (“TOUCH CINEMA”, 1968) and “Hyperbulie” (“Hyperbulia”, 1973), EXPORT contorts, cuts and deforms her body to expose the profound social oppression of women – a theme that continues to resonate today.

Gauri Gill and Rajesh Vangad, Mountains and Trees, 2014, from the series „Fields ofSight“, 2013-ongoing © Gauri Gill and Rajesh Vangad

Gauri Gill and Rajesh Vangad

Gauri Gill and Rajesh Vangad – for the publication “Fields of Sight” (2023) published by Edition Patrick Frey.

Through fusing photography and Warli painting, photographer Gauri Gill (b. 1970, India) and painter Rajesh Vangad (b. 1975, India) collaboratively reinvent the practice of painted photography, interweaving historical and generational painting practices into the photographic object. Their complex image dialogue addresses the politics of aesthetics, environmental destruction, memory and decolonisation. 

The project began in 2013 in the Adivasi village of Ganjad, Dahanu. Vangad, who grew up in this landscape, served as Gill’s knowledgeable guide. While Gill’s photographs captured the ever-changing qualities of the land, they fell short of revealing the hidden but essential elements beyond the visible. Vangad bridged this gap by embellishing Gill's images with intricate drawings. His vivid narratives depict the multifaceted realities of Warli life in the region, from floods and droughts to family and village life, unrest and terror, spirits and myths, light and shadow. The result is a new visual record that encapsulates multiple truths and systems of knowledge.

In this encyclopaedic publication, the artists challenge contemporary perspectives. They explore how viewers ascribe meaning to a place and how the act of viewing itself creates complicity. Through their creative and experimental partnership, they encourage viewers to explore the hidden, elusive layers that exist beneath the surface.

Lebohang Kganye, Re shapa setepe sa lenyalo II, 2013 © Lebohang Kganye, Courtesy the artist

Lebohang Kganye

Lebohang Kganye – for the exhibition “Haufi nyana? I’ve come to take you home” at Foam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (17 February – 21 May 2023).

Lebohang Kganye’s (b. 1990, South Africa) photographic projects cross personal and collective histories. She draws from shared oral narratives and fictional texts, exploring South Africa’s layered history before, during and after apartheid and colonialism. 

In her vast, experimental installations, Kganye creates a space that resides between memory and fantasy. Here she collects stories from her family with excerpts from South African literature, and rewrites them into theatrical scripts. Silhouettes, cut-outs, puppets, shadows and ghosts, fashioned from material found in photo albums as well as her own compositions, (re-)enact these scripts and bring them to life. The exhibition features four projects which use a complex array of media – from photographic montages in “Ke Lefa Laka: Her-Story” (“It’s my inheritance: Her-Story”, 2013) to spatial installation in “Mohlokomediwa Tora” (“Lighthouse Keeper”, 2018), and film animation in “Shadows of Re-Memory” (2021) to patchwork in “Mosebetsi wa Dirithi” (“The Work of Shadows”, 2022).

The exhibition's title, "Haufi nyana?" meaning "too close?" in Sesotho, one of South Africa's official languages, reflects the dialogue between the viewer and the artist. It touches on notions of home as heritage and identity, as well as physical and mental spaces. Her skilful blending of images and words allows her to navigate the complexity of the South African experience, opening new ways of understanding and contributing to the process of decolonisation.

Hrair Sarkissian, Unexposed, 2012 © Hrair Sarkissian, Courtesy the artist

Hrair Sarkissian

Hrair Sarkissian – for the exhibition “The Other Side of Silence” at Bonnefanten Museum, Maastricht, The Netherlands (29 November 2022 – 14 May 2023).

Hrair Sarkissian’s (b. 1973, Syria) conceptual photography focuses on deeply personal narratives that reflect the complexity of larger historical and social issues. In “The Other Side of Silence”, ostensibly serene landscapes and calm urban environments become stages for accounts of trauma and the expression of underlying socio-political realities. Born and raised in Syria, the grandson of Armenian genocide refugees, much of Sarkissian’s work can be seen as an exploration of the hidden emotional nuances that permeate the lives of diverse diasporic communities. 

Sarkissian’s practice, characterised by his austere, large-scale photographs, moving image works, sculptures, sound works, and installations, oscillates between the creation of meditative dreamscapes and haunting deathscapes. In these spaces, the originally excluded muted voice is briefly offered room. Drawing from personal memories and interactions, and extensive research, Sarkissian aims to evoke emotional experiences among audiences, fostering awareness and a sense of solidarity.

This mid-career overview, spanning two decades, moves through the public squares of Aleppo, Latakia and Damascus, the skies of Palmyra over modern Syria and the post-industrial landscapes of Armenia. Despite employing analogue photographic practices, Sarkissian’s images play with the vernacular possibilities of photography as a mass medium, offering the opportunity to consider what official history conceals, and the potential for re-writing it.