Deana Lawson, a photographer whose work is currently the subject of a traveling survey in the United States, has won the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize.
Though it comes with only £30,000 (about $36,600), the award is considered to be among the most important devoted to photography. Artists including Trevor Paglen, Walid Raad, Juergen Teller, Cao Fei, and Andreas Gursky are among previous winners.
Lawson is best known for her portraits of Black men and women often posed in domestic settings. While these images may appear to be documentary, they tend to involve sitters who are strangers. Periodically, Lawson’s work has also involved ready-made imagery that she places alongside the pictures she herself has shot. She has also branched out into filmmaking as well.
In recent years, Lawson’s work has received greater attention in the U.S. She won the Guggenheim Museum’s $100,000 Hugo Boss Prize in 2020, becoming the first photographer to receive the award, and a show of her work is now on view at MoMA PS1 in New York, co-organized with the Institute of Contemporary Art Boston.
It was Lawson’s 2020 show at the Kunsthalle Basel, which focused on states of chaos and order, that won her the prize. Images from that show later appeared at the Bienal de São Paulo and in her 2021 Guggenheim Museum Hugo Boss Prize show.
Brett Rogers, director of London’s Photographers’ Gallery and chair of the prize’s jury this year, said in a statement, “Her work, which reframes and reclaims the Black experience, harnesses the traditional and the experimental and opens up a very unique connection between the everyday and the mystical. Her subject matter sits somewhere between the ‘here and now’ and the past, a person and a people, the staged and the naturalistic, in a manner which is not didactic or issue driven, but genuinely radical.”
Photographers Anastasia Samoylova, Gilles Peress, and Jo Ractliffe were also shortlisted for this year’s award.