It is time to reveal the winners of the Conscientious Portfolio Competition 2011. This year, the jury consisted of Caroline von Courten (FOAM Magazine), Michael Mazzeo (Michael Mazzeo Gallery), and myself. Find more information about Caroline and Michael here. Without further ado, the winners are… (more)
After going through all the portfolios for several times, Mirjana Vrbaski’s series of portraits kept coming back into my thoughts. Their dialectic nature struck me. These very simple and yet dense complex photographs invite me to look more closely and to have a conversation in my mind with these photographs and the persons portrayed. In an interesting way, the plain, non-dramatic lighting and the elimination of anything that could reflect the identity of these persons allow a very close intimate face-to-face encounter. The portraits don’t give any away - who these persons are, in which relation they stand to the photographer and vice versa. It’s the very nature of portraits lingering between this simplicity (the classic formal aspects) and the complexity of capturing the essence of a person in only one frozen shot. Here the limitation and the concentration of the photographic medium reveal themselves at once in an extraordinary way.
Michael went for Nigel Bennet’s Silence Has an Echo:
The one portfolio that I kept returning to was Nigel Bennet’s. With a color palette suggestive of streetlamps and traffic lights, these dark, brooding images left a lasting impression on me. The meticulously composed and beautifully lighted portraits of individuals seemingly lost in their thoughts invoke loneliness, loss and the struggles of daily life. Alternating with the portraits, the highly organized images of chaotic tangles of wires, branches, and haphazardly constructed systems, indicate a neglected infrastructure and emphasize a breakdown in communication. This portfolio offers enough information and ambiguity to elicit countless narratives. Nevertheless, the mood of the work is certainly unsettling and, I believe, very appropriate given the current state of the world.
After not being able to decide between four different portfolios, I finally picked Yaakov Israel’s The Quest For The Man On The White Donkey:
A complex, multi-faceted project, featuring portraits and landscapes, Yaakov Israel’s The Quest For The Man On The White Donkey captures seemingly disjointed moments in time, offering many hints and as many red herrings. The viewer is invited to come back and re-look at these photographs, to find a slightly different world each time. New details reveal themselves, while old details change their meaning ever so slightly. Instead of pointing at something and saying “This is the way it is” the photographs ask their viewers to discover what is to be found and to ultimately come to their own conclusions.
I will conduct interviews with the three winners and showcase their work over the following weeks in more detail. Stay tuned…