Shaping Perspectives

This year’s Art Prize presents 21 artists, from across the world, who offer creativity as a form of expression. They tap into poignant emotions and motivate us to act, inspiring a collective response to challenges facing society. Each work reminds us of the connection between artist and viewer. Here we highlight photographers from the shortlist who document society from alternative perspectives. The following images are on display at York Art Gallery and available to view in a new online gallery.

Yevhen Samuchenko | At the Pink Planet, 2019-2020

Ukraine-based photographer Samuchenko’s work primarily focuses on nature and studies the shifting relationship between humankind and the environment. He says: “The first time you see the pink salt lakes of the Kherson region in Ukraine, it feels as though you are looking at another planet. During the summer months, microscopic algae turn the water pink and red.” Samuchenko conveyed the atmosphere of this location by using a drone. Since this work was created, the area became occupied by Russia, and the unique landscape was badly damaged due to flooding after the dam of the Kakhovka Reservoir was destroyed.

Kriss Munsya | Genetic Bomb , 2022

Munsya is an image-based artist based in Canada. He was born in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, and moved to Belgium at the age of two. Like many people who have experienced similar emigrations, he carries generational guilt and confusion. He asks: “How are we supposed to come together with our homeland? How can we embrace our roots and at the same time live in a system that is corrupting them?” Munsya’s work raises awareness about difficult topics in society, including racism, colonialism, white supremacy and patriarchy. His work creates a dissonance between what viewers see and what they feel.

JeeYoung Lee | Stage of Mind

Whereas traditional photography conveys extracts of reality, South Korean multidisciplinary artist Lee offers excerpts from her dreams, heart and memory. She reinterprets her psychological landscape into stage sets. Stage of Mind began with self-reflection; she asked herself “where am I in my mind?” The series allows Lee to question identity and contemplate existence. She creates the fabric of a universe born from her mind within the confines of her studio. Restrained by the inherent limits of the conventional photographic medium, she adds theatrical performance to breathe life into her creations. Thus these alternative worlds become real places in the studio as she stands amid each scene.

Alexej Sachov | Chronicles of an Emerging Diversity, 2023

Alexej Sachov is a Ukrainian-German artist and diver. His work merges photography and painting to spotlight the underwater world’s beauty and fragility. Sachov studied rocket engineering and photography in Kiev, and his work advocates for environmental protection and peace. Alexej’s distinctive style transforms underwater photography into compelling contemporary art, bridging the gap between the terrestrial and aquatic realms. Chronicles of an Emerging Diversity was born from the aftermath of our thoughtless waste, capturing new, man-made underwater species that have emerged. They broaden the rich diversity of “life” on our beloved planet Earth, serving as a testament to the replacement of nature.

Margeaux Walter | Don’t Be a Square , 2023

Margeaux Walter is a fine art photographer based in Joshua Tree, California. Dedicated to building a layered scene – whether in a studio or a temporary site-specific installation – she utilises photography, installation, video and performance to portray issues related to conservation, climate change, consumption and waste. Through humour and surprise, her images engage with viewers on the practice of seeing, challenging them to question not only what they are seeing, but how they see it. In Don’t Be a Square, she staged site-specific interventions in the landscape that, when viewed through a camera lens, disrupted the scenery. She sees the Anthropocene as a glitch in time; a fleeting moment in the timeline of life.

Heather Agyepong | D is For…, 2022

Heather Agyepong is a British-Ghanaian multidisciplinary artist and actor based in London. Her practice is concerned with mental health and wellbeing, invisibility, diaspora and truth. D is For… is from the series ego death, and is inspired by psychiatrist Carl Jung’s concept of “the Shadow.” Jung defined this as aspects of one’s personality deemed inappropriate, which may have been repressed during childhood and adolescence, by family, education, social norms and external factors. Agyepong has been discovering her own shadow; unpacking ideas around shame, attempting to confront and make peace with it. Both deeply personal and universal, the work presents an exploration of self-discovery and radical acceptance.

Thomas Jenkins | Chasing Colour, 2022

Thomas Jenkins is a visual artist working with photographic processes. His work explores colour and abstraction to question what is defined as a photograph in the modern day. His methods stem from interests in contemporary and historical photography, painting and sculpture. The pictures are not intended to be understood but to be felt, experienced and seen. They are an indulgence into colour, which is a fundamental form of visual communication. Describing colour is intrinsically difficult, as a single colour, like blue, can only be described through comparison to blue objects or different colours. The images make no attempt to represent the physical world, instead creating discord within the photographic process.​

These artists will feature in the Aesthetica Art Prize 2024 Exhibition at York Art Gallery from 16 February – 21 April. Plus, meet over 250 longlisted international artists in our new online gallery.

Want to get involved? The next edition of the Prize is open for entries. Submit your work by 31 August. Win £10,000, exhibition and publication. Find out more here.

Image credits:

1. JeeYoung Lee, Loveseek, (2014). From the series Stage of Mind (2007 – ongoing)

2. Yevhen Samuchenko, At the Pink Planet (2019- 2020), From the series At the Pink Planet. C-type print.

3.&4. Kriss Munsya, From the series Genetic Bomb. C-type print.

5. JeeYoung Lee, Loveseek, (2014). From the series Stage of Mind (2007 – ongoing)

6.&7. Alexej Sachov, From the series Chronicles of an Emerging Diversity. C-type print.

8.Margeaux Walters, From the series Don’t Be a Square (2021-2023).

9.&10. Heather Agyepong, D is For…(2022), From the series: Ego Death. Hahnemühle Fine Art Pearl triptych. Commissioned through Jerwood/Photoworks Award 2022.

11. Thomas Jenkins, Chasing Colour (2022). C-type print.