The ‘contemporary’ photography prize known as the ‘Deutsche Börse’ continues to feel like a tardy after-belch of an event. These publications and exhibitions all happened over a year ago, and you can’t help but wish for a little more freshness. All four photographers on the shortlist fit the Big Photography Prize mould. The acid test for this is to imagine one of their images on the front of BJP and to ask yourself if you detect any incongruity. None here (in fact I’m sure all four have graced the covers of BJP, or else an aesthetic doppelgänger has). But who will come away with the prize? The (non-serious) definitive answer is here.
Pieter Hugo, nominated for his publication Permanent Error
Sorry, Mr Hugo. Your images make a fine set, and those bundles of miscellaneous reclaimed cables are divine sculpture, but you won’t triumph this year. The set contains too few variations to keep the viewers attention for a whole publication, and to be frank, they appear too similar in style and intent to your ‘Hyena’ series for the viewer to separate them.
John Stezaker, nominated for his exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery
Apologies, Mr Stezaker. You are the only shortlisted photographer to bring a genuine smile to the face (a very out of fashion response sought by serious photographers), but you will go home empty-handed this year. I just don’t feel it is collage’s time to shine, and your methods sit too uncomfortably in this environment, being too retro without the perceived requirement for a lo-fi bent.
Rinko Kawauchi, nominated for her publication Illuminance
Commiserations, Ms Kawauchi. Your fifteen year attempt to hoodwink your gullible audience will come to nought. You refer to ‘illuminance’ as if that is enough of a subject for a photo. We have been photographing nothing but light for as long as the medium has existed; our ‘subjects’ are merely convenient reflective surfaces. Your images may evoke something faint in some viewers, but that’s honestly not enough to triumph.
Christopher Williams, nominated for for his exhibition Kapitalistischer Realismus
Congratulations, Mr Williams! And chin up. Victory by default need not be a hollow one. Yes, your competitors may have made it easy for you, but you can only beat the opposition in front of you. As far as I can tell from the plethora (three) images on display in the Photographers’ Gallery, you can take a (technically) fine photo, and who doesn’t like a picture of darkroom equipment? I also much enjoyed the precise state of the finger at the button of the I-know-not-what machine. I think your photographs are the only ones here to strike the right balance between something to look at and something to think about, and you are therefore a worthy winner.
The real winner is announced on the 3rd September. For more information, see: http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/deutsche-borse-photography-prize-2012
Ok, so I was out by one. I said one guy would win, and another did. That’s out by one, right? Check out this excellent article in the Guardian regarding John Stezaker’s victory.