At this year’s Paris Photo, set to take place from 8 to 11 November at the city’s magnificent Grand Palais, Leica Camera AG presents the two winning projects of the Leica Oskar Barnack Awards (LOBA) 2018. Belgian photographer Max Pinckers was chosen as the main category winner for his series ‘Red Ink’, while the Newcomer Award for emerging photographers under 25 went to Russian artist Mary Gelman for her series ‘Svetlana’.
Max Pinckers’ series ‘Red Ink’ was shot under strict government surveillance. In August 2017, at the height of the propaganda battles between the US and North Korea, the photographer accompanied the American journalist Evan Osnos on a four-day trip to North Korea, commissioned by the weekly magazine ‘The New Yorker’. The resulting series skilfully plays with the viewer’s perception: aware that it would be impossible to catch a glimpse of the reality behind the regime’s facade, the Belgian photographer decided to document his surroundings in a boldly lit, flash-heavy style usually used in propaganda and advertising images – thereby consciously emphasising the orchestrated nature of each scene.
For her deeply personal project ‘Svetlana’, Newcomer-award winner Mary Gelman repeatedly travelled to the remote community of Svetlana, some 150 km east of St. Petersburg, over the course of nearly two years. Svetlana is a special-needs facility run by the Camphill Movement – a holistic, anthroposophy-based initiative designed to allow people with disabilities to live and work autonomously in a setting untouched by prejudices and discrimination. Her sensitive photographs reveal the artist’s extraordinary powers of observation, dispersing the distinction between ‘normal’, ‘disabled’ or ‘different’. Instead, they illustrate just how capable and free any person can be if they are unburdened by stigma and discrimination.
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Leica Oskar Barnack Award