Deutsche Börse: Collective Experience

Deutsche Börse: Collective Experience

The shortlist for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2020 is announced. Four artists interpret and questions issues facing the world today – from labour and financial exchange to misinformation and trauma. Each project looks at the collective: articulating shared memories, modes of communication and ways of living.

Consumerism and disenfranchisement are the subjects of Algerian artist Mohamed Bourouissa’s (b. 1978) Free Trade. The exhibition was held above a Monoprix supermarket as part of the Rencontres d’Arles festival – an unusual but strikingly relevant setting. The show looks at the invisible tensions within societies: one work comprises Polaroid photos of people stealing everyday items from a store, another presents sculptures representing the forgotten and faceless “army of the unemployed.” Early projects subvert stereotypes of youths living in the infamous Paris banlieues.

Social documentary is also the subject of Parade, the shortlisted work by Mark Neville (b. 1966), who looks to inspire change beyond the gallery walls. Starting in 2016, on the day Britain voted to leave the EU, the artist began capturing life in Guingamp, Brittany – an agricultural area enlivened by collective cultural activities such as football and Breton dance Fêtes. Neville create a map of the region’s social and economic landscape, looking towards sustainable farming methods whilst celebrating a sense of community.

Shown above is work by Anton Kusters (b. 1974), who was chosen for The Blue Skies Project. It is a conceptual response to historic violence and trauma, held at Fitzrovia Chapel, London. 1078 images show an upward view of a blue sky – shot at the last known location of every former Nazi run concentration or extermination camp across Europe during WWII. The resulting photographs took six years to create, thoroughly researched and stamped with GPS coordinates and the number of the site’s victims. As The Photographers’ Gallery notes: “Kusters offers the audiences space to contemplate their own position in history and engage with the ongoing discourse around human rights, trauma and genocide.” 

Topical themes of communication, technology and misinformation run through Clare Strand’s (b. 1973) The Discrete Channel with Noise. It is inspired by George H. Eckhardt’s publication Electronic Television (1936), which offered an early study of how we might transmit images via telegraphic communication. Strand replicated this process: choosing 10 images from her UK archive of found photographs to be transmitted to Paris by telephone. She translated the resulting grid-like images through painting – examining the ever-widening question of how we perceive, code and categorise visual information in the digital age.

The exhibition at The Photographer’s Gallery runs from 21 February – 7 June 2020. The winner will be announced on 14 May. Find out more here.

Lead image: Anton Kusters The Blue Skies Project Fitzrovia Chapel, installation view, 2019 © Anton Kusters