Mathieu Asselin, Rafal Milach, Batia Suter and Luke Willis Thompson are all in the running for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2018.
Although wide-ranging in style and approach, all of the shortlisted projects, which have today been announced, reflect a "shared concern with the production and manipulation of knowledge and systems of representation through visual formats", according to the award organisers.
Mathieu Asselin’s meticulous investigation into the long history of the global biotechnology corporation Monsanto brings together hundreds of documents and photographs depicting the devastating human, the ecological and economic impact of the company’s long and reckless story of growth, and their cynical efforts to change their negative public image.
Over five years Asselin conducted extensive research and travelled through Vietnam and the United States of America to find the people and places dramatically affected by Monsanto’s past and current practices. His determined approach resulted in an overwhelming depiction that also aims to portray what Monsanto’s near future might look like.
Rafal Milach (b. 1978, Poland) is nominated for his exhibition Refusal, which ran earlier this year at the Atlas Sztuki Gallery in Lodz, Poland. Milach’s ongoing artistic practice focuses on applied sociotechnical systems of governmental control and ideological manipulations of belief and consciousness. Focusing on post-Soviet countries such as Belarus, Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Poland, Milach traces the mechanisms of propaganda and their visual representation in architecture, urban projects and objects.
Batia Suter (1967, Switzerland) is nominated for her publication Parallel Encyclopedia #2 (Roma, 2016). Suter’s substantial compendium is an image-led sequence of subjective associations offering visual dialogues and new categorisations that demonstrate how our understanding of the physical world and its history, as well as different cultures and places, are affected by their context of representation.
The found images are sourced and reproduced from roughly 1,000 diverse publications collected by the artist. They form various themes and narratives that collectively investigate the nature of images and the process of their consumption.
And last but not least, Luke Willis Thompson (b. 1988, New Zealand) is nominated for the exhibition Autoportrait, exhibited at Chisenhale Gallery in London earlier this year. His 35mm film autoportrait is a silent portrait of Diamond Reynolds. In July 2016, Reynolds used Facebook Live to broadcast the moments immediately after the fatal shooting of her partner Philando Castile by a police officer during a traffic-stop in Minnesota, United States. Reynolds’ video circulated widely online and amassed over six million views.
In November 2016, Thompson established a conversation with Reynolds, and her lawyer, and invited her to work with him on the production of an artwork. Thompson wanted to make an aesthetic response that could act as a ‘sister-image’ to Reynolds’ video broadcast, which would break with the well-known image of Reynolds, caught in a moment of violence and distributed within a constant flow of news. In June 2017, Reynolds’ original video was played to a jury as evidence.
Despite the abundance of visual information, the officer who killed Castile was acquitted of all charges. autoportait continues to reopen a question of the agency of Reynolds’ recording within, outside of, and beyond the conditions of predetermined racial power structures.
The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is an annual award established by The Photographers’ Gallery, London, in 1997 and 2018 will be its 21st year. The £30,000 prize rewards a living photographer, of any nationality, for a specific body of work in an exhibition or publication format in Europe felt to have significantly contributed to the medium of photography.
The winner will be announced at a special award ceremony in May 2018 at The Photographer's Gallery in London. More info about the Prize can be found at deutscheboersephotographyfoundation.org.
Main image: Rafal Milach Khyrdalan, Azerbaijan, 2016 © Rafal MIlach Courtesy of the artist