Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2016

October 2, 2016

With her The Unbearable, the Sadness and the Rest series, Clémentine Schneidermann won the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2016. We spoke with the French photographer about her work.
The winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award talks about the series she produced in Wales, The Unbearable, the Sadness and the Rest, about her experiences and her hopeful expectations.

When did you start working on the series?

I started my project with the people of the South Wales Valleys when I moved there in September 2015. I was familiar with the history and social situation of this area before living there, but I had never really had the opportunity to explore it. But in September, I was commissioned to start a three-month residency (which became ten) to document the area and the people living there. That’s how it started.

Why did you concentrate on children for your series?

Because it’s a difficult area, with high poverty, brutal architecture and, of course, the rain, I became interested in the children growing up in this environment and wanted to document what it’s like to grow up there. I wanted to play with them, and show them something they are not familiar with: creativity. I didn’t only want to photograph them, but also to teach them things about photography, fashion, etc.

Do you think that your series is also a political statement?

This area of Great Britain is often seen as one of the deprived places, and most of the images or documentaries coming out of there emphasize this aspect: drugs, alcohol, people on benefits, obesity, council estates, illness, etc. This is a reality, but, of course, there are other things. I didn’t feel comfortable showing that. It’s not fair for the people living there to always be shown as victims. I wanted to find beauty and try to show this area in a different way. I wasn’t interested in coming for a couple of days and then leaving – like most journalists do.

Read the full interview with Clémentine Schneidermann in the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2016 special edition of LFI, available from the LFI Shop.

Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award 2016