John Stezaker’s Deutsche Börse win

Last night at the Photographer’s Gallery, British artist John Stezaker won the prestigious Deutsche Börse photography prize. This success follows his major exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery last year.

“The Jury recognized John Stezaker’s outstanding achievement spanning a period of more than thirty years, exploring the subversive force of the found image,” said Brett Rogers, director of The Photographers’ Gallery.”

In the hours and day that has followed this announcement there has been an incredible amount of debate (and criticism) on social media forums regarding the decision to award Stezaker, celebrated for his experimental collages, this photography prize. The full shortlist of artists included Pieter Hugo, Rinko Kawauchi and Christopher Williams. I personally was hoping for Hugo to win for his body of work Permanent Error, a powerful examination of the people and landscape of Agbogbloshie, an expansive Ghanaian dumping ground for global electronic waste. However I also acknowledge the subjectivity of my personal opinion, governed perhaps by a bias towards social documentary photography and human narratives, rather than the conceptual.

Nor do I believe ‘appropriation’ and the use of found photography to be any less an artistic and potentially powerful medium, worthy of an international photography prize. (For me, the potential of the collage is no better represented than by the politically charged photomontage made during the interwar years by artists such as John Heartfield and Hannah Hoch among others.) The purpose of this post is simply to share a few recommended and alternative responses to news of Stezaker’s win. Debate on photography is always very welcome, and indeed needed, to continue to push the medium forwards.

Sean O’Hagan: Why John Stezaker deserves his Deutsche Börse win

Madeleine Corcoran: A Short Post Not About Whether Found Images Are Photography

Brian Dillon for London Review of Books: At the Photographer’s Gallery

Pieter Hugo on Artsy

This entry was posted in News.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *