Artist John Stezaker Wins 2012 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize

by David Walker

©John Stezaker
Muse (Film Portrait Collage) XIII 2012. Courtesy The Approach Gallery, London, and Galerie Gisela Capitain, Cologne.

British artist John Stezaker has won the 2012 Deutsche Börse photography prize, organizers announced yesterday in London. The £30,000 award is given annually to a living photographer for a book or exhibition that contributed to the medium of photography in Europe during the previous year. Stezaker, who makes photos from collages but doesn't shoot them, won for his exhibition in early 2011 at the Whitechapel Gallery in London.

Stezaker is the first winner of the Deutsche Börse prize who doesn't take photographs. Born in 1949, he makes collages  from movie stills, vintage postcards and book illustrations. By slicing and adjusting the images or combining them with separate pictures, he gives them new contexts and meanings. His Mask series, for instance, superimposes objects of natural beauty--such as caves and waterfalls--over portraits of glamorous faces. For another project included in the Whitechapel Gallery exhibition called Third Person Archive, he removed figures from the margins of travel illustrations, and presented them on their own as primary subjects of separate works.

Other finalists for this year's Deutsche Börse prize were South African photographer Pieter Hugo. He was nominated for his book called Permanent Error (Prestel, 2011), about a dumping ground in Ghana for technological waste and the slum dwellers who process the material. Japanese photographer Rinko Kawauchi was nominated for her book Illuminance (Editions Xavier Barral, 2011), a collection of fine art images exploring themes of life, death, and the everyday. US photographer Christopher Williams was nominated for his exhibition "Kapitalistischer Realismus" at Dům umění České Budějovice, held during May and June, 2011 in Budweis, Czech Republic. His work alludes to and borrows from advertising imagery to question our understanding of reality as it is communicated through photographs.

Jurors for this year's Deutsche Börse prize were François Hébel, Director, Les Rencontres d'Arles; photographer Martin Parr; Beatrix Ruf, Director/Curator, Kunsthalle Zürich; and Anne-Marie Beckmann, Curator, Art Collection Deutsche Börse, Germany. Brett Rogers, Director of The Photographers’ Gallery, was the non-voting chairperson of the jury.

Related Articles:
In a Moment: Rinko Kawauchi's Illuminance

Pieter Hugo on The Digital Divide

Jim Goldberg Awarded $50K Deutsche Borse Photography Prize 2011


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