With rebel fighters in psychedelic warzones, ballet in afro wigs, and four decades of self-portraits, this year’s Deutsche Börse Photography Prize 2014 includes a variety of work from shortlisted artists Richard Mosse, Lorna Simpson, Alberto Garcia-Aliz and Jochen Lempert, aiming to interrogate and expand our thinking about the medium.
The Enclave from Richard Mosse, an exhibition from the Venice Biennale earlier this year, documents the conflicts in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where approximately 5.4 million people have died of war related causes since 1998. Mosse shot the series on discontinued military surveillance film, and the resulting images register an invisible spectrum of infrared light, turning trees and vegetation magenta and giving the images a psychedelic hue.
Brett Rogers, director of The Photographers’ Gallery, London (where an exhibition of works will be held next year), describes the series as “transforming the horror and brutality of war into a surreal form of documentary”, in an attempt for find an alternative way to communicate this complex and horrific human tragedy. (Above: Safe From Harm, 2012, and Man-size, 2011).
Lorna Simpson’s retrospective exhibition at Jeu de Paume, Paris, mixes photography, text, video installations, archival material and found objects. Her performative and conceptual approach seeks to explore themes of gender, identity, culture, memory and body. (Above: Still from Momentum, 2011, and Waterbearer 1986).
Alberto Garcia-Aliz’s publication Autorretrato/Selfportrait, features black-and-white self-portraits of the artist taken over nearly four decades. Offering a glimpse into his past, the series reflect a life of intimacy and excess, whilst blurring lines between self-reflection and staged portraiture. (Above: My feminine side, 2002, and Self-portrait with Ana Cura, 1984).
The black-and-white photographs from Jochen Lempert’s exhibition at Hamburger Kunsthalle, range from distant everyday views to close-up abstract details. Lempert trained as a biologist, and has been studying humans and the natural world through photography since the 1990s, with an approach that is both scientifically curious and aesthetically poetic. (Above: Untitled (girl in a telephone booth),1993/2011. Below: Untitled (four swans), 2006).
Established in 1996, the prize celebrates photography in both published and exhibition form in Europe from the previous year, with a £30,000 prize for the winning artist. This year’s judging panel includes Brett Rogers (as non-voting chair), curator Kate Bush, artist Jitka Hanzlová, director and curator of Fotomuseum Winterthur Thomas Seelig, and Anne-Marie Beckmann, curator of the art collection of Deutsche Börse.
The winner will be announced on 12 May 2014, with an exhibition of shortlisted work at The Photographer’s Gallery, London 11 April – 22 June 2014.