John Stezaker wins The Deutsche Börse photography prize never having taken a photograph.
John Stezaker Worcester-born Photographer and artist have won the £30,000 prize for his collection of photo-collages of found photography. An alumnus of Slade School of art he graduated in 1973 and was among the first group of British artist to turn their back on pop art.
The Deutsche Börse photography prize is awarded to a photographer of any nationality who in the previous year (if the award for 2012 looked at the period of October 2010- September 2011) had made a substantial contribution to the medium of photography through either exhibition or publication. Nominees for the prize hold an exhibition at The Photographers Gallery in London. Previous winners include, Walid Raad, Paul Graham and Sophie Ristelhueber to name a few.
John Stezaker’s work is striking. Taking common element sin and image and them composing them together creating challenging images for the viewer. His work examines our complicated relationship the image. He juxtaposes found photographs, illustrations and film stills merging their content and context of the original images to create new emotional meanings.
For some it might be strange that a non-photographer has managed to win a photography prize. For me it was strange at first and there are those bastions of the medium who will denounce the win. But then in lies the immortal question about photography which has been asked since the the first light sensitive material was exposed, “What is photography?”
Photography is a very fractured medium with sometimes people spouting very black and white definitions of what photography is and what it is not. But since no one can objectivity say what photography is maybe we have to let it grow until it reaches its boundaries.
For me Francois Hebel summed it up perfectly,
“I believe there has been a sort of salutary deliverance in photography. Not too long ago, if your images weren’t in black-and-white, you weren’t taken seriously. Fifteen years ago, when art galleries started to take photography seriously, they introduced new standards and photography was pretty much classed into two camps – German-style photography and Nan Goldin-style trash [aesthetic]. Today, finally, we welcome photography in all its styles and approaches. These approaches are different from one another and, as a result, it makes it difficult to compare them against each other. But it goes to show that photography is a wider genre than people believe, and the jury was unanimous in its readiness to welcome all these different approaches.”
John Stezkar’s winning exhibition is on at the Photographers Gallery London Until the 9th of September then it will move to Deutsche Börse headquarters in Frankfurt from the 15th of September till the 25 of October and then to the C/O Forum in Berlin from the 3rd of November to the 13th of January 2013.