The “surgically precise images” of Sophie Ristelhueber has won her the 2010 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. In a ceremony on 17 March, film director Terry Gilliam presented her with the £30,000 award at The Photographers’ Gallery. Hailed for “push[ing] the boundaries of the photographic medium”, her 2009 retrospective exhibition in Paris earned the nomination.
The annual European competition, now in its 14th year, draws international entries from contemporary photographers. Considered one of the “most prestigious of the international arts awards”, nominees represent a “significant contribution” to the medium in the last year.
The French artist’s composited images of war-torn regions explore the “marks of history on the physical and human landscape”. Shunning convention, viewers question the artifice in the doctored photos, sourced from her collection and news agencies. Brett Rogers, jury chair commented; “[her] fragmented images explore the terrain of the real and imagined, addressing urgent issues of trauma, loss, memory and conflict”.
While the prize intends to show “the diversity of contemporary photography”, detractors criticise a “distinct bias for a certain kind of conceptual art photography” (Sean O'Hagan, Guardian). Additionally, accusations of “an abandonment of quality” in recent years (Joanna Pitman, Times) increasingly discolour this event.
To make up your own mind, a selection from the winner and shortlisted nominees is showing at The Photographers' Gallery until 17 April.