Dutch photographer Dana Lixenberg has been awarded the 2017 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize for her 22-year project, Imperial Courts, which documents a predominantly African-American community in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. The announcement was made last night at The Photographer’s Gallery, London. The prize honors photographers who have made outstanding contributions to the medium in the previous year. It carries an award of £30,000 (approx. $39,100 US).
Lixenberg’s Imperial Courts, which was published as a monograph in 2015 (Roma), is centered around a Watts housing project. Lixenberg began photographing there in 1992, following the riots that erupted in Los Angeles when four police officers were found not guilty in the beating of Rodney King, an African-American man. Over the course of her project, Lixenberg has followed changes in the community using portraiture, photographing many of her subjects as they grew from children to adults. “Her comprehensive and measured series impressed all of the judges through its affirmation of photography’s power to address important ideas through pure image….” said Photographer’s Gallery Director Brett Rogers in a statement. “Lixenberg has expertly harnessed the photographic medium to rethink stereotypical representation and empower a community with direct voice and visibility.”
This is the 20th year the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize has been awarded. Sophie Calle, Awoiska van der Molen, and the duo Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs shortlisted for this year’s prize. The work of all of the shortlisted photographers is currently showing in an exhibition at The Photographers Gallery, through June 11, 2017. The exhibition will also tour to the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt from June 29 until September 17 2017, and to Aperture Foundation in New York from November 16 2017 through January 11, 2018.
Jurors for the prize included curator Susan Bright; photographer Pieter Hugo; Centre Pompidou Curator of Photography Karolina Lewandowska; Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation director Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director. Rogers acted as the non-voting chair of the jury.
The prize was inaugurated by The Photographers’ Gallery in 1996. Deutsche Börse Group, an investment bank, sponsored the prize from 2005 until 2015, when the Deutsche Börse Foundation took over the sponsorship. Past prize winners include Luc Delahaye (2005), Robert Adams (2006), Sophie Ristelhueber (2010), Richard Mosse (2014) and Trevor Paglen (2016).