It’s that time of year again; the Deutsch Börse Photography Prize shortlist has been announced with each candidates work now on full display at The Photographers’ Gallery on Ramillies Street. After the astounding winning work of Richard Mosse and his Enclave series last year, the 2015 contenders have a lot to live up to. This year the prize see’s new mediums intruding the gallery space, where a carefully curated display of photography has been juxtaposed with video, text and installation work. The Deutsch Börse Photography Prize 2015 provides us with a range of exciting and diverse photographers, each of which are dedicated to the representation of a spectrum of different cultures and social attitudes in the contemporary.
The work of photography duo Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse is arguably the most eye-catching at first glance of the prize overall. Their project Ponte City focuses on a 54-floor building in Johannesburg, South Africa which was built specifically for the privileged white elite in the 1970s. Quickly u-turning by the 1990s, Ponte City became a place of refuge for individuals on the fringe of society, including immigrants, criminals and dealers. By 2007 a plan of eviction was put in place by new developers, this however lost its foothold and was never accomplished. Taking the building and its residents as a central point of focus for their work, Subotzky and Waterhouse have pursued a project of cultural narration with informative weight. Several series of photographs depict open doorways to flats with owners or renters in the frame inviting the camera into their homes. The artists have captured these images and put them upon glowing light boxes which mirror the Ponte City high rise build itself in small-scale.
Another favourite to win is Zanele Muholi’s raw and eye opening series of photographs, which present South Africa’s LGBT sect of society through powerful black and white portraiture photography. Her work references the hardship LGBT individuals have faced in South African society and culture, and encourages activist demands on those learning of the hatred and oppression sunk in South African communities. Her portraits are truly beautiful depictions of the LGBT community in their most honest and frank statures and hold a strong chance of nabbing the 2015 photography prize.
Also featured in the prize are Nikolai Bakharev’s intimate social portraits of life in Russia during the 1970s, a time when artists had little support from the government as pursuers of the professional arts. Bakharev’s photographs are hauntingly striking, portraying closed surroundings of both staged and relaxed individuals, some family and some strangers. Finally Viviane Sassen brings photography and installation to the Deutsch Börse prize. Her use of abstraction and light introduce something different to the prize this year, and explore ideas of constructed aesthetics in the photographic medium.
A strong line-up this year in the Deutsch Börse Photography Prize, my bets are on either Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse or Zanele Muholi. Each of their powerful projects hold important messages in the contemporary with regards to culture, society and the basic way we treat and live with each other. The winner will be announced on the 28 May at a special award ceremony in The Photographers’ Gallery building on Ramillies Street.