Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Fazal Sheikh

The Deutsche Borse Prize is upon us again. Last week I spoke to the four shortlisted photographersfor an upcoming feature in the BJP and a rare pleasure it was. The winner is always good, but sometimes the shortlist can be patchy. This year it's incredibly consistent - an anti-art list of committed/committable photographers who really don't care about the art world.

Fazal Sheikh has been nominated for Ladli, a book in which Sheikh gets behind the illusion of India's economic development to examine a country where, as he says in the book's introduction, a girl's "...very gender, from conception, makes many women the potential victim's of a patriarchal system which tacitly condones their exploitation, mistreatment, even death."

The photography is simple and direct and so is the text, deep photography dealing with deep political and cultural issues. You can see the whole book online here.

One of the organisations Sheikh worked with was Shakti Shalini, which is run by two women (one muslim, one hindu) whose daughters were murdered for dowry payments. You can read about Shakti Shalini and other issues that are the flip side of India's economic miracle here.

And as Sheikh points out, the horrors of forced labour, forced prostitution and domestic abuse aren't confined to India - you can also find them closer to home, right on our doorsteps.


Joerg Colberg said...

I don't mean to make this sound like a statement about these photographers, but I really do wonder how Deutsche Boerse decides about who a good candidate is? What is the intention of the prize? You really have to hand it to them, though, they manage to make the prize stand out even though sometimes I'm not so sure that's such a good thing.

colin pantall said...

It's a prize, that's the point of it. And everyone likes winning prizes. And it's about photography - which makes it even better. That's the point of it.

The shortlisted candidates get selected on the grounds of one particular thing I think - so Fazal Sheikh is up for Ladli, Jacob Holdt for the Steidl American Pictures, John Davies for his British Landscapes show and Esko Manniko for his Cocktails show. But there's going to be a bit of pragmatism as well.

Stefanie Braun, the curator of the prize exhibition, reckons one of the strengths of the prize is each year you have different judges - so you get a different mix. And this year the judges aren't really interested in what's hot and what's not, so you get this mix which is very consistent, but doesn't necessarily parallel previous years.

And Jem Southam is a judge, which has to have a lot to do with John Davies being in there. I'd love to see John Davies win for lots of reasons - but then I like them all.

Joerg Colberg said...

There's got to be something more to it than it just being a prize. I mean they must have some way to pre-select their candidates - on what basis? Are there any constraints? I'm just curious...

colin pantall said...

Essentially, it's a prize and it's to do with photography. I really don't think there's anything more than that. The judges choose the shortlist and this year they opted for the documentary/social commentary route.

Here's the DB blurb - which is pretty open.

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize

The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize aims to reward a living photographer of any nationality, who has made the most significant contribution to the medium of photography in Europe in the previous year.

The Prize was originally set up in 1996 by The Photographers' Gallery in London to promote the best of contemporary photography. Deutsche Börse has sponsored the £30,000 prize since 2005. The Prize showcases new talent and highlights the best of international photography practice and is one of the most prestigious in the world of photography.

Each year, a jury representing photography institutions throughout Europe is set up. Previous winners of the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize are Walid Raad (2007), Robert Adams (2006) and Luc Delahaye (2005).

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