And the winners are…
These five artists have been selected from 900 applications from 94 countries to be awarded with POPCAP '16, the piclet.org Prize for Contemporary African Photography. A panel of 20 international experts from the field of photography has carefully reviewed the overwhelming amount of submissions to this fifth anniversary edition of the the prize.
Born in 1978 in St Denis, France. Lives in les Mesnuls, France
African Tales from today, 2012–2014
Work statement: This series is a set of photographs taken with communities in Africa (Ethiopia, Rwanda, Madagascar and Namibia) and in the African communities living in the French suburb of Paris. The aim of the project is close over time to a traveling theater. So the tales took shape around Africa. The scenes of large size are made with objects found on site. The scenography is set up with the local community in order to evoke the narrative you see in the image. Each story is decided and shared as a commitment of models. The photographic moment is similar to a theater because many people come to attend this "performance" , the eye of the audience creates a new dialogue. The unified group expresses not only its vision to the world, but he tries to share it with his own community too.
A troop of Indians won the war against the Cowboys in Madagascar, a Christian and a Muslim families are building together a Mosque-Church in Ethiopia. Sometimes it speaks about the revolt against the separating elements of life, borders , discrimination , violence ... Other times it is the mutual enrichment and solidarity that are the hope , or the development of new ideas. From two humans to a whole group, they wished to defend a philosophical view, humanistic, or poetics that reflects their local issues, and their own world vision.
Born in 1979 in London, England. Lives in London, England
Work Statement: While living in Johannesburg, I was struck by the ever-present reality of people waiting. Inactive yet expectant, this condition becomes a visual echo of the predicament that many South Africans can find themselves in. Though many wait alone, the amount of people waiting becomes a collective, city-wide experience.
Visually I was drawn to those seeking shelter from the harsh summer sun by positioning themselves in the shade. Figures here occupy ephemeral spaces of respite created by the surrounding urban environment. These shadows remove the individuals’ identities, leaving only the subtlety of posture and the details of place. With only the waiting period accompanying each image, the purpose or possible outcomes of these situations is unclear. We are left to meditate on the temporality of these individual situations and the indirect connections that waiting creates across society.
Born in 1980 in Driefontein, South Africa. Lives in Johannesburg, South Africa
Isivumelwano: An Agreement, 2003–2014
Work statement: Isivumelwano: An Agreement comprises a series of photographs shot at various Southern African wedding ceremonies. The first time I used a camera was for a wedding in 1997, I did not get a chance to see the photographs because the bride picked them up straight from the lab. This body of work is an attempt to reconstruct these images looking at how an event about the love between two people becomes a community event.
This work started in South African townships, and continued with an exploration of these ceremonies in the capital cities of Lesotho, Mozambique and Swaziland. The resulting body of work focuses on the beauty and ornate nature of these ceremonies as well as the traditions and attire that embrace the adaptability of cultures in today’s African cities. Wedding ceremonies in black Southern African cultures are significant gatherings, often with more than one day of celebrations. The work looks at the way Southern African cultures have been adapted over the years looking particularly at the amalgamation of African cultural practices and Western white wedding rituals seen predominantly in metropolises.
Born in 1978 in St Helier, Jersey. Lives in Cape Town, South Africa
The Price of Gold, 2015
Work statement: The high court in Johannesburg will soon decide if a class action lawsuit can be laid against 32 gold mining companies in South Africa. Three law firms are representing a group of miners who are applying for this class action on behalf of all miners suffering from Silicosis or Pulmonary Tuberculosis as a result of working in the gold mines.
Over a period of 20 days in September and October 2015, Thom Pierce traveled around South Africa's Eastern Cape, into Lesotho and up to Johannesburg to find and photograph the 56 sick miners and widows named in the lawsuit. The photographs were then displayed in the building next door to the courtroom in Johannesburg at the time of the case in October 2015. This was done as a piece of advocacy, to put a human face to the often stark and detached courtroom proceedings.
Silicosis is a preventable but incurable lung disease that is contracted in the gold mines through inadequate protection from silica dust. Miners who contract silicosis get tired and out of breath quickly and are prone to lung infections, respiratory failure and TB. Most miners who became sick were sent home with little or no compensation and no hope of finding further employment.
Born in 1990 in Berlin, Germany. Lives in Berlin, Germany
Work statement: One hundred years after the Rehoboth Basters rose up against their German colonizers, the photo series “Basterland“ takes up the task of providing a multifaceted insight into the contemporary life of the ethnic group living in Namibia today. A heterogenous spectrum of images arises in condensed pictures, revealing the tension-laden contradictions inherent to a typical phenomenon of our day and age—the confrontation between the processes of global standardization, and traditional regional structures that have been upheld over generations and defended against such external, antagonistic forces. It is a portrait of a society that seems to find itself in an “in-between“ amid tradition and change.
It emerges out of the deliberately subjective impressions of the photographer: She, too, is permeated by this “in-between“, on the one hand because of her repeated visits to the region to become part of the community; on the other hand because of her European heritage, through which she always represents something other. This tension saturates the images throughout the series; some images were partially staged, others were created spontaneously.
The virtually constitutive meaning of this history, which has been fought for time and time again, is the central theme of this work: The past lights up in the present, but precisely this past was meant to constantly be protected from the present. Last but not least the merit of this photo series lies in reminding us of a forgotten episode of German colonial history.
The name “Baster” (Afrikaans for German bastards) may seem a little pejorative. But the Baster community gave it themself because it reminds them of their heritage and emergence. The Basters are the offspring of the union between European settlers and their indigenous Khoisan slaves during the colonial period in the 18th century. During the South African colonization, the Basters became a more and more unwanted and stigmatized group. Since Namibia’s independence in 1990, the Basters are the only traditional grouping in Namibia with no special legal status and to this day they fight for their acceptance and recognition in society.