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ICP Announces 2017 Infinity Awards, With Nods to Sophie Calle, Aperture’s ‘Vision & Justice’ Issue, and For Freedoms Super PAC

Harry Benson, Ali hits George, 5th St. Gym, Miami, 1964. ©HARRY BENSON

Harry Benson, Ali hits George, 5th St. Gym, Miami, 1964.


The New York–based International Center of Photography, which reopened its museum last spring downtown on the Bowery, announced the 2017 winners of its Infinity Awards. The awards, which will be given at a gala in April, have been distributed annually since 1985. Past recipients include Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, LaToya Ruby Frazier, Mary Ellen Mark, Zanele Muholi, Shirin Neshat, Gordon Parks, and Walid Raad.

This year’s recipients are:

—For art, the photographer and conceptual artist Sophie Calle, whose earliest work, the Suite Venitienne (1979), in which she followed—and photographed—a man throughout the streets of Venice after meeting him at a party in Paris, sets the tone for her unique approach to documenting her personal experiences. Perhaps her best known work, Take Care of Yourself, which debuted at the 2007 Venice Biennale, invited women from all walks of life to interpret a break-up email she received from an ex-boyfriend, which ends with the line “Take Care of Yourself.”

—For critical writing and research, Aperture’s summer 2016 issue, titled “Vision & Justice” and guest-edited by Harvard professor Sarah Lewis. The issue, which has been one of the most-lauded publications of the last year, looks at the impact that photography has had on the black experience in America, ranging from essays on Fredrick Douglass, the Obama presidency, and the impact of Carrie Mae Weems’s “Kitchen Table Series” to portfolios by LaToya Ruby Fraizer, Awol Erizku, and Lyle Ashton Harris, among others.

—For online platform and new media, For Freedoms, a Super PAC founded by Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman. For Freedoms, billed as the first artist-run Super PAC, also staged an exhibition over the summer at Jack Shainman Gallery in New York, where Thomas shows, with an opening night held on the day of the presidential primary elections for five states, including California and New Jersey. The show, which included a place to register visitors to vote, presented new work by Rashid Johnson, Marilyn Minter, Carrie Mae Weems, and Fred Tomaselli, among others.

—For artist’s book, Michael Christopher Brown’s Libyan Sugar, which captured the photographer’s journey in a war zone using a camera phone. Brown is a contributing photographer to National Geographic Magazine and the New York Times Magazine. His recent projects look at the music and youth culture in Havana and conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

—For documentary and photojournalism, photographer Edmund Clark and counterterrorism investigator Crofton Black for their “Negative Publicity,” a project that looked at the CIA’s use of secret detention centers during the war on terror. The culmination of the project, five years in the making, was published by Aperture as a book filled with documents and images related to their investigations.

—For emerging photographer, Vasantha Yogananthan, a Paris-based practitioner who set out to document a modern-day interpretation of the Sanskrit epic the Ramayana, a legend that tells of a journey from north to south India. The project, titled “A Myth of Two Souls” and begun in 2015, will span seven years and be published in seven books, with the second installment to be published in April.

—And for lifetime achievement, British-born photographer Harry Benson, who has photographed important events in contemporary American history since he first came to the States with the Beatles in 1964. Perhaps his best-known photograph is of Muhammad Ali, arm extended in a faux-punch, with the band. He has also taken the portraits of important world figures, from Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle to Michael Jackson and the Rolling Stones. He has photographed every president since Eisenhower, including President-elect Donald J. Trump, and was a photographer for Life magazine for 30 years. A documentary on his life and work, titled Harry Benson: Shoot First, was released at the end of last year.

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