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Deutsche Börse Prize 2005

From: Eva
Category: Exhibitions
Date: 23 May 2005


Prize exhibitions elicit a particular way of being appreciated and judged by the viewer. Take the Deutsche Börse Prize at the Photographer’s Gallery. The box, we are told, that these four belong to is that of “living photographer, from any nationality, who has made the most significant contribution to the medium of photography over the last year”. This is too mammoth a claim to leave the audience passive. So what’s a ‘significant’ contribution? Do these four individuals represent that? They have been set-up to fail, because it’s impossible to fulfill this criterion, their compensation is money and media exposure.

Their contribution is to the ‘medium’ of photography. That implies formalist criteria. Presumably it would not be enough to use photography as a means to an ends, but foremost an appreciation of photography in and for itself is paramount? Artists using photography as a means amongst others to communicate would presumably not be included. Photographers using their craft primarily to report on events would likewise not be included, unless their work was self-reflexive enough to justify a significant contribution to the medium. So who CAN be included, because of this seemingly vast yet ultimately limited criteria, it is a narrow group of practioners.

The works in the Deutsche Börse Prize 2005 strike a balance between technical mastery, aesthetical ‘harmonious’ balance and political reference. In short, mostly bland but nicely made. Luc Delahaye won the £30,000 prize, and his work is the best, but prizes of this sort don’t really suit anyone.

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