Esther Teichmann talks to BJP post-Photo Levallois win [updated]

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Esther Teichmann is the winner of this year’s Photo Levallois Award for her series Fractal Scars, Salt Water and Tears, 2012-2014.

As part of the prize, the German–American artist was awarded a €10,000 grant and an exhibit of her work at Photo Levallois Festival in France this autumn. “I’m honoured to have won this award,” Teichmann told BJP. “I intend to use the money to extend the project, and I’m also working on a short film piece.”

The jury gave special mentions to German photographer Stephanie Gudra, and Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques, from France, whose work will also be exhibited at the festival.

On the judging panel this year was Lucy Conticello, director of photography at Le Monde’s M magazine; Joshua Chang, chief curator at the Center of Creative Photography in Tucson, Arizona; Aron Mörel of Mörel Books; Stéphane Decreps, deputy mayor of culture at the city of Levallois; and Joel Riff of the Curiosity Chronicles in Paris.


Teichmann’s winning series is an edit from the last two years’ worth of work, the London-based photographer explains. Featuring female nudes, landscapes and still lifes, Fractal Scars combines photography with painting and collage, which Teichmann uses to create fictional, dreamlike worlds that “hint at something magical”.

“My practice is rooted in photography, but I’m interested in where photography meets other media,” she says. “I’d been working with family members over a long period of time, and this series grew from that work. For example, I’ve worked closely with my mother for many years, juxtaposing images of her with those of my husband at the time, to look at the relationship between the maternal body and the lover’s body.

“We’re a close family and I’ve also always worked with my sisters, and then in the last few years, their children. Increasingly, I wanted to only work with women – good friends, my sisters. I’m interested in female friendship, sisterhood, and the idea that my body is an extension of their bodies. I make my work wherever I am in the world, which might be Upstate New York, where my mother’s from, or California, Florida, Germany,” she adds. “I’m interested in something becoming dislocated from a specific geographical place, and in some ways I hope the work is a seamless whole.”

Photo Levallois Festival was founded in 2008 with the aim of seeking out and showcasing contemporary photography by emerging photographers. The seventh edition runs from 10 October to 15 November.

The programme for this year’s festival is yet to be announced, but exhibitions last year included The Fourth Wall by 2013 Photo Levallois Award winner Max Pinckers.

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