Winners announced for 2018 Leica Oskar Barnack Award

© Max Pinckers 'Red Ink'

Belgian photographer Photographer Max Pinckers has been announced as the winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2018 after the five members of the jury decided his series titled 'Red Ink' was a worthy winner of the main 'Leica Oskar Barnack Award'.

In August 2017, at the height of the propaganda conflict with the USA, Max accompanied journalist Evan Osnos on a four-day assignment to North Korea for the weekly magazine ‘The New Yorker’ where the images for his ‘Red Ink’ were captured.

North Korea is still one of the most centrally directed and least open nations of the world. Even though we are given the impression that the regime has begun to allow more photographers to enter the country, unsupervised photography remains almost impossible. From the outset, Max never imagined that his photos would be able to throw a light on what goes on behind the facades constructed by the regime. Instead, he used his flash as if at an advertising or propaganda shoot to emphasise the obvious staging of the situations he encountered.

© Max Pinckers 'Red Ink'

As well as the overall winner, a 'newcomer' award is given to an up-and-coming photographer and this year, Mary Gelman from Russia won the ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer’ award with her series titled ‘Svetlana’.

© Mary Gelman 'Svetlana'

In the course of her extremely personal project, ‘Svetlana’, the winner of the newcomer award, Mary Gelman, regularly visited the village of Svetlana, a community around 150 kilometres to the east of St. Petersburg that is a part of the anthroposophical Camphill Movement, over a period of almost two years. The village is a therapeutic refuge in which people with special needs or disabilities live and work autonomously in a setting untouched by prejudices and discrimination. Gelman reports that the initial reaction of the residents to her and her camera was over-excitement. After a while, the residents became used to her and she became accepted as a more or less permanent guest whose presence was hardly noted. From this moment on, a wonderful time began for the young photographer. Gelman emphasises that respect, openness and honesty, and learning to perceive and accept the personal frontiers of individuals, is essential. The most important thing for her when shooting is to remain calm and unhurried.

© Mary Gelman 'Svetlana'

The winners and finalists of the LOBA will be honoured in the course of a formal ceremony in Berlin on 10 October. The portfolios of all twelve finalists will then be on view from 10 to 31 October 2018 at a major exhibition in the ‘Neuen Schule für Fotografie’, Brunnenstrasse 188-190, 10119 Berlin. The LOBA Catalogue 2018, presenting the winners and finalists in detail with comprehensive portfolios and interview, will be published to accompany the exhibition.

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