Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize

Acting with an eye to the future

The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize aims to reward a contemporary photographer of any nationality, who has made the most significant contribution (exhibition or publication) to the medium of photography in Europe in the previous year. The Prize showcases new talents and highlights the best of international photography practice. It is one of the most prestigious prizes in the world of photography.

The Prize was originally set up in 1996 by The Photographers' Gallery in London to promote the best of contemporary photography. Deutsche Börse has sponsored the £30,000 prize since 2005. In 2015 the Prize was retitled “Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize” following the establishment of the Foundation as a non-profit organisation dedicated to the collection, exhibition and promotion of contemporary photography.

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016

The four artists shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016 are Laura El-Tantawy, Erik Kessels, Trevor Paglen and Tobias Zielony.

This year’s shortlist reflects a range of approaches and subject matters encompassing the use of videos, objects and texts. These diverse bodies of work express political and personal concerns with identity, migration, surveillance and loss at their core.Works by the shortlisted photographers will be exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery from 16 April until 26 June 2016 and subsequently presented at the Deutsche Börse headquarters in Frankfurt/Eschborn.

The Jury

The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize candidates are nominated by the Academy, a group of more than one hundred international experts of photographic art. Each Academy member nominates one contemporary photographer of any nationality. An international jury which is newly assembled each year chooses four finalists from among the nominated photographers, one of which is then determined the winner.

The members of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016 jury are: David Drake, Director Ffotogallery, Cardiff; Alfredo Jaar, Artist; Wim van Sinderen, Senior Curator at The Hague Museum of Photography; Anne-Marie Beckmann, Curator Art Collection Deutsche Börse and Brett Rogers, Director, The Photographers’ Gallery as the non-voting Chair.

The shortlisted artists

Laura El-Tantawy (b. 1980, UK/Egypt) for her self-published photobook In the Shadow of the Pyramids (2015). In images that span from 2005 to 2014, this project depicts the atmosphere and rising tensions in Cairo in the events leading to and during the January revolution in Tahrir Square (2011-13). El-Tantawy grew up between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the US, with In the Shadow of the Pyramids she explores parallel narratives of her own family’s history with the search for identity of a troubled nation. She combines old family photographs and her own lyrical witness accounts with close up portraits of protestors and streets scenes that vividly express the violence and euphoria of the crowds.

Image: Laura El-Tantawy, Women of Tahrir, 2013 (28 June 2013, Cairo, Egypt) ©Laura El-Tantawy, courtesy of the artist


Erik Kessels (b. 1966, The Netherlands) for his exhibition Unfinished Father at Fotografia Europea, Reggio Emilia, Italy (15 May – 31 July 2015). In Unfinished Father Kessels reflects upon the fragmented realities of loss, memory and a life come undone as a result of his father’s debilitating stroke. Kessels uses his father’s unfinished restoration project of an old Fiat 500 as a representation of his current condition. He brings pieces of the unassembled body of the Topolino car into the exhibition space and presents it alongside photographs of car parts and images that were taken by his father.

Image: Erik Kessels, Unfinished Father, 2015, © Erik Kessels, courtesy of the artist


Trevor Paglen (b. 1974, USA) for his exhibition The Octopus at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (20 June - 30 August 2015). Paglen’s project aims to represent complex topics like mass surveillance, data collection, classified satellite and drone activities and the systems of power connected to them. Paglen’s installation comprise images of restricted military and government areas, skylines showing the flight tracks of passing drones, sculptural elements and research assembled in collaboration with scientist, amateur astronomers and human rights activists. Through his work Paglen demonstrates that secrets cannot be hidden from view, but that their traces and structures are visible evidence in the landscape.

Image: Trevor Paglen, They Watch the Moon, 2010, © Trevor Paglen, courtesy of the artist

Tobias Zielony (b. 1973, Germany) for The Citizen, exhibited as part of the German Pavilion presentation at the 56th Biennale of Arts, Venice, Italy (9 May - 22 November 2015). Mostly taken in Berlin and Hamburg Zielony’s photographs portray the lives and circumstances of African refugee activists living in Europe. Fleeing violence and oppression in their home countries many arrive to the West in search of freedom and security only to find themselves living as outsiders in refugee-camps without legal representation or work permits. Presented alongside the images are first person accounts, interviews and narratives published by Zielony in African newspapers and magazines which report on the immigrants’ experiences and journeys.

Image: Tobias Zielony, The Citizen, 2015, © Tobias Zielony, courtesy of KOW Berlin, Lia Rumma, Naples and the artist

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