The finalists have been announced for the 2018 New East Photo Prize, the second edition of the competition, which celebrates contemporary photography from Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Russia and Central Asia.
This year’s shortlist includes 16 photographers and collectives from Latvia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Croatia, Slovakia and Azerbaijan, who will be part of a dedicated group show at Calvert 22 Foundation in Shoreditch this autumn. The overall winner and the winners of two special prizes will be announced on Thursday 11 October.
The biennial prize received over 600 entries this year from twenty-six New East countries. With a diverse range of work reflecting a whole spectrum of approaches and topics, the New East Photo Prize is a unique glimpse into the self-identity of an underrepresented region and the lives of its people.
Among the photographers is Latvia’s Alnis Stakle, who explores the Crimean coastline in his series Heavy Waters by tracing the slow decline of the area’s Soviet legacy after the peninsula’s capitalist rebirth. Poland's Michal Solarski’s Infirmi gives a peek into the modern life of Soviet sanatoriums, health resorts which still function today after falling into different states of decay.
Hungary’s Antal Bánhegyesy explores links between identity and religion through the Orthodox churches built in Romania in the last 27 years, while Boglárka Éva Zellei (also Hungarian) focuses on the lives of Christian communities through the ritual of baptism.
Russian photographer Fyodor Telkov’s Ural Mari presents the mysterious religious rituals preserved throughout the Soviet regime, while Ukrainian collective Join the Cool put their own quirky spin on school graduations and coming of age in Eastern Europe.
"It was a great adventure: a challenge, but also a lot of fun discovering new talents and seeing great work from familiar authors," says Tomasz Kulbowski, documentary photographer and educator based in Lublin, Poland, and one of the New East Photo Prize judges.
"Each of the shortlisted photographers demonstrates a unique approach to the people, places and stories that shape the region, here seen through the lens of a generation of photographers from whom we have much to learn," adds Ekow Eshun, Creative Director of Calvert 22 Foundation and New East Photo Prize judge.
The New East Photo Prize accepts photo projects made within the last two years in the countries which make up the New East. As well as exhibiting their work in London with Calvert 22 Foundation, the winner will also be offered a cash prize of £1,000 to help develop their work further.
Two special prizes are also up for grabs. New East Photo Prize partner Metro Imaging will present one finalist with the company’s Mentorship Award, comprising 12 months of tailored support and £1,000 credit with Metro Imaging.
The Fabrika Travel Photography Prize will be awarded to a travel photography project that best documents the landscape, culture, people or history of a region or place. The winner will receive a five-day trip to Georgia, staying in Fabrika, a hostel and urban hotspot in Tbilisi, and Rooms Hotel Kazbegi, with tours of the capital and the mountains.
On Friday 12 October and Saturday 13 October, Calvert 22 Foundation will host the New East Photo Weekend in partnership with Metro Imaging, with a series of interactive events including talks, workshops and one-to-one advice sessions aimed at photographers of all ages. Tickets: £20 / £15 (students). Visit calvert22.org for more information.