Dutch photographer Dana Lixenberg has won the twentieth edition of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize at London’s Photographers’ Gallery, for her multifaceted portrait of the residents and community of the Imperial Courts housing project in Watts, Los Angeles.
She was announced as the 2017 winner of the prestigious £30,000 prize by broadcaster and writer, Ekow Eshun, at a special award ceremony at The Photographers’ Gallery this evening.
Lixenberg started her project Imperial Courts after the Los Angeles riots more than 20 years ago, and has since revisited and expanded the series. In contrast to the often one dimensional and sensationalised media coverage, Lixenberg takes a more controlled and formal photographic approach, "slowing things down" – as she puts it.
The project includes images from different years that follow the trajectories of individual stories. Over time, lives have been lost, people have disappeared or gone to jail, and the children of early photographs, have grown up and had children of their own. In later visits, Lixenberg started using audio and video recording to document the conversations and specific soundtrack of the neighbourhood. In this way, Imperial Courts charts the effects of a complex and evocative passage of time on an underserved community.
Dana Lixenberg lives and works in New York and Amsterdam. She studied photography at the London College of Printing and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. She works on long-term projects, mostly focused on individuals and communities on the margins of society. These include Jeffersonville, Indiana, a collection of landscapes and portraits of the small town’s homeless population, and The Last Days of Shishmaref, which documents an Inupiaq community on an eroding island off the coast of Alaska.
The power of her work is found in the intimacy of her images and the absence of social stereotyping. She has gained international recognition through her work for publications such as Vibe, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsweek and Rolling Stone. Her photography has been widely exhibited and can be found in prominent collections.
You can see her winning series, along with all the nominated projects from the shortlisted artists for 2017 (including works by Sophie Calle, Awoiska van der Molen and Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs) at an exhibition at The Photographers’ Gallery until 11 June 2017.
The show then begins its tour to the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt from 29 June until 17 September 2017 and subsequently travels to Aperture Foundation in New York from 16 November 2017 until 11 January 2018. This exciting development marks the first US exhibition of the prize in its twenty-year history.
All images © Dana Lixenberg, courtesy of the artist and Grimm, Amsterdam