The four international artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2023 are today revealed as Bieke Depoorter, Samuel Fosso, Arthur Jafa and Frida Orupabo.
As always, it has been a privilege to be part of the jury for this year’s Prize. With the rest of the jury, I was deeply impressed by the exceptional quality and range of submissions this year. Once again the submissions sparked animated debate and reinforced the urgent role and ongoing relevance of contemporary photography. Together, this shortlisted group of extraordinary artists shows us new and challenging ways to look at the world around us, addressing both personal and universal perspectives. This annual Prize is a key foundation of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation’s mission to create a diverse cultural landscape in which international artists can flourish. Alongside other projects, we intend to achieve this goal through our long-standing partnership with the Photographer’s Gallery.Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director of the Deutsche Börse Photography
Originally established in 1996 and organised in partnership with the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation in Frankfurt/Main since 2016, this long-standing and influential annual Prize identifies and rewards artists and their projects considered to have made the most significant contribution to photography over the previous 12 months.
Over its 26-year history, the Prize has become renowned as one of the most important international awards for photographers, as well as a barometer of photographic development, foregrounding outstanding, innovative and thought-provoking work. From blurring the relationship between photographer and subject and unpicking the ethics of being a photographer, to exploring gender
and sexuality, violence, injustice and the black experience, this year’s shortlisted artists all push the boundaries of photography and exemplify its resonance and relevance as a cultural force today.
The annual exhibition of shortlisted projects will be on show at The Photographers’ Gallery, London from 3rd March – 11th June 2023. The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony held at The Photographers’ Gallery on 11th May 2023, with the other finalists each receiving £5,000. Full details on the Prize exhibition and award evening will be announced in early 2023.
The 2023 shortlisted artists and projects are:
Bieke Depoorter – for her exhibition A Chance Encounter at C/O Berlin (30th April – 7th September 2022).
In an exhibition of installations, projections, film and photography, Bieke Depoorter (b. 1986, Kortrijk, Belgium) blurs the traditional relationship between photographer and subject. The exhibition presents two unfolding, ongoing, bodies of work, Agata and Michael. Here, a chance encounter develops into an enduring personal relationship and, thereafter, into an interrogation of the medium.
In Michael, Depoorter examines the life and the disappearance of a man she met on the streets of Portland, Oregon in 2015. Gifted three suitcases of Michael’s personal items, sketchbooks and essays, Michael’s subsequent disappearance turns Depoorter detective. The exhibition documents Depoorter’s immersive, perhaps obsessive, quest to find Michael and to understand his life.
In Agata, both as an exhibition and a self-published book, a first meeting in a Parisian strip-club in 2017 evolves with complex tension into an exercise in collaboration. Here the images and words of Agata Kay are in taut dialogue with Depoorter’s images and letters. They offer not conclusions or endings but a living visual changing narrative that explores concepts of authentic versus performative identity; the potential impossibility of truth in representation; artistic authorship; photographic ethics; the responsibilities of the photographer; personal boundaries; and the limits of a creative friendship.
Samuel Fosso – for his exhibition Samuel Fosso at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris, (10th November 2021 – 13th March 2022). Since the mid-1970s, Samuel Fosso (b. 1962, Kumba, Cameroon) has dedicated his artistic practice to self-portraits and performative photography. Fosso’s
retrospective exhibition traces a career of almost 50 years and comprises more than 300 prints. The exhibition brings together iconic series, lesser-known works, as well as archival material and previously unpublished images, displayed principally in large-scale ensembles.
Born in Kumba, Cameroon and raised in Nigeria, Fosso fled the Biafran War as a young boy, and in 1972 was taken in by an uncle in Bangui in the Central African Republic. In 1975, at the age of thirteen, Fosso opened his Studio Photo Nationale. Alongside commercial work, Fosso immediately began a series of self-portraits – a mode of representation he has never abandoned. Playing the role of key historical figures and social archetypes in front of the camera, Fosso embodies a powerful way of existing in the world, and a vivid demonstration of photography’s role in the construction of myths.
Arthur Jafa – for his exhibition Live Evil at Luma, Arles (14th April – 13th November 2022).
Arthur Jafa (b. 1960, Tupelo, Mississippi, United States) is an artist and filmmaker. Nominated for the largest and most comprehensive exhibition of his work to date, Jafa draws upon a substantial archive of film and still images, creating visceral, dynamic films and room-sized installations.
In the gallery space and on the screen, Jafa derives power from astute juxtaposition and lyrical, syncopated editing. Here the role of his personal archive and his instinct as a collector of images comes to the fore. Since the 1980s, Jafa has been accumulating and assembling pictures from books and magazines, arranging this imagery in new constellations within notebooks and latterly within dynamic artworks. For ready-made moving images, YouTube remains a favourite resource, alongside news footage and home video.
It is by placing one resonant cultural artefact next to another that Jafa references and questions the universal and specific articulations of Black experience. Eschewing a linear narrative, Jafa organises his material through formal and affective associations, linking his images through visual resemblance or thematic resonance. In this way Jafa aspires to an art that harnesses “the power, beauty, and alienation of black music.”
Frida Orupabo – for her exhibition I have seen a million pictures of my face and still I have no idea, Fotomuseum Winterthur (26th February – 29th May 2022). The sculptural collages and digital works of Frida Orupabo (b. 1986, Sarpsborg, Norway) are multi-layered formations, exploring questions of race, sexuality and identity. Orupabo, a Norwegian Nigerian artist and sociologist, grounds her inquiry in her own experience of cultural belonging.
Utilising visual material circulating online, spanning colonial-era photographs and ethnographic relics to contemporary imagery, Orupabo’s hand-wrought works re-arrange and re-make the archive. The resulting images take the shape of fragmented Black, mostly female-bodied, figures. These figures, first dislocated,
are reassembled layer by layer in a complex and poetic manoeuvre that simultaneously denounces one-dimensional depictions of Black lives. Orupabo bestows complexity, ambivalence and contradiction. Her collaged cut-outs hold our gaze and invite various readings of the stories and lives of the people depicted, many of whom are entirely absent from the archives. In this way Orupabo invites a consideration of how photography significantly contributes to the formation and perpetuation of colonial power relations and violence.
Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2023 Exhibition, The Photographers’ Gallery, 3rd March – 11th June 2023
This year’s Jury are: Thyago Nogueria, Head of Contemporary Photography at Instituto Moreira Salles, São Paulo, Brazil; Natalie Herschdorfer, Director of Photo Elysee, Lausanne, Switzerland; Mahtab Hussain, artist; Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director of Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation, Frankfurt/Main, and Brett Rogers, OBE, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, London, as voting chair.