»LEICA OSKAR BARNACK AWARD 2017«
Winner ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award’: Terje Abusdal
Winner ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer’: Sergey Melnitchenko
Clara Chichin, Yoann Cimier, Aleksey Kondratyev, Gideon Mendel, Dominic Nahr, Ekaterina Sevrouk, Viktoria Sorochinski, Vera Torok, Emilien Urbano, Patrick Willocq
The Leica Camera AG presents the works of all twelve finalists of the prestigious Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA) at a major exhibition in the ‘Neue Schule für Fotografie’ from 14 September to 15 October 2017. The international photographic competition exists since 1979 and features two categories, the „Leica Oskar Barnack Award“ and the „Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer“.
In 2017 around 2,700 photographers from a total of 104 countries submitted works to the award. An international jury awards the LOBA to professional photographers whose unerring powers of observation capture and express the relationship between man and the environment in the most graphic form in a sequence of a minimum of 10 up to a maximum of 12 images. With prizes amounting to a total cash value of 80,000 euros, the LOBA is one of the most highly remunerated photographic competitions.
In the main category, ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award’, the Norwegian photographer Terje Abusdal convinced the five members of the jury with his impressive long-term project titled ‘Slash & Burn’. He will be honoured with a cash prize of 25,000 euros and Leica M-System equipment (a camera and lens) valued at an additional 10,000 euros.
Between tradition and mysticism, ethnic origins and clan culture, facts and fiction, LOBA-winner Terje Abusdal’s equally mysterious and expressive photography bring us closer to the Forest Finns, an ethnic group that leads a life in close touch with nature in Norway. He began the project ‘Slash & Burn’, which subsequently developed into a long-term project, as his diploma thesis at the Danish School of Journalism. During his three-year research work, Abusdal delved deeper and deeper into the traditions of the Forest Finns, in the meantime a recognised ethnic minority in Norway. But how can immaterial aspects such as culture be captured in pictures when the traditions are almost extinct? Taking this question as a starting point, Terje Abusdal blurred the transitions between reality and fiction to an ever increasing degree. ‘I added certain elements from the history of the Forest Finns to the story – such as fire, smoke, shamanism’, explains Terje Abusdal. As a result, documentation and imagination are interwoven in his pictures in an irritating and simultaneously organic way. His pictures radiate a suggestive power and unique mysticism – the consequences of a deliberate attempt to create a fictional universe, a magical world.
In the category ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer’ for up-and-coming professional photographers aged up to 25, Sergey Melnitchenko from the Ukraine won through against around 800 other candidates with his portfolio ‘Behind the Scenes’. He convinced the jury with his impressive, simultaneously realistic and in literal terms, unwashed, in-your-face proximity to his subjects in his portfolio titled ‘Behind the Scenes“’. Hardly anyone has ever got as close to the dancers in a Chinese club as the Ukrainian photographer. Everything here is hard reality – it’s not about scenes. It’s about real life, our lives, or simply about my life’, says Sergey Melnitchenko. The day dawns after work in a hot and humid night somewhere in China – sweating transvestites, girls in bathtubs filled with beer, drunken artistes, and even more drunken guests. Bruised and battered legs, feet raw from dancing, laddered stockings in the light of make-up mirrors. Scratches and scars, mostly invisible, as they are wounds inflicted on maltreated souls. To deliver such insights, getting close is far from enough. Like Melnitchenko, you have to be a part of it all. The cinematic imagery of his portfolio has nothing to do with life in the spotlights, it tells stories of everyday life behind the scenes, his everyday life, with all the rough edges of show business. His portfolio, ‘Behind the Scenes’, reveals much more than many would like to see. Sergey Melnitchenko, the winner of the Newcomer Award, will be honoured with a cash prize of 10,000 euros and will also be presented with a Leica rangefinder camera and lens.
In addition to the two main categories, the work of the other ten finalists in this year’s competition will be honoured with prizes of 2,500 euros.