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“Romain Mader’s Ekatarina is notable for the humour and irony with which he addresses serious issues: solitude, love, exploitation and the female body,” said the jury for the Foam Paul Huf Award. “In this Chinese box of a project, each layer opens to reveal a new interpretive possibility. What is real here, and what is fiction?

“In the invented Ukrainian town of Ekaterina, mysteriously populated only by women, Mader – or the character he plays – looks for love. Unremarkable in appearance, he spends time with aspiring models and beauty queen hopefuls, frozen behind their smiles.”

Demande en marriage (Marriage proposal), from the series Ekaterina, 2012 © Romain Mader / ECAL
Demande en marriage (Marriage proposal), from the series Ekaterina, 2012 © Romain Mader / ECAL

Mader, who was born in 1988, wins €20,000 plus a solo show at the Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam towards the end of 2017. The Foam Paul Huf Award is an annual prize for image-makers under the age of 35, which was set up in 2007 in memory of Paul Huf, an innovative photographer instrumental in founding the Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam in 2001. Previous winners include Daisuke Yokota (2016), Daniel Gordon (2014), Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs (2013), and Taryn Simon and Mikhael Subotzky (2007).

The members of the 2017 jury were: Lucy Conticello, chair (director of photography, M, Le Magazine du Monde, France); Gregory Barker (publisher, STANLEY/BARKER, UK); Teju Cole (writer, photographer and photo critic, The New York Times Magazine, USA); Shi Hantao (research director, Shanghai Project, China); Maddalena Scarzella (gallery manager, Galleria Carla Sozzani, Italy).

www.foam.org/talent/foam-paul-huf-award Romain Mader’s website is at https://stereotyp.es  Ekaterina by Romain Mader is published by Morel Books morelbooks.com

Moraliste (Moralist #1), from the series Ekaterina, 2012 © Romain Mader / ECAL
Moraliste (Moralist #1), from the series Ekaterina, 2012 © Romain Mader / ECAL
Valentine’s day in London #1, from the series Ekaterina, 2016 © Romain Mader
Valentine’s day in London #1, from the series Ekaterina, 2016 © Romain Mader
Publicité #1 (Advertisement #1), from the series Ekaterina, 2012 © Romain Mader / ECAL
Publicité #1 (Advertisement #1), from the series Ekaterina, 2012 © Romain Mader / ECAL
Diane Smyth

Diane Smyth is a freelance journalist who contributes to publications such as The Guardian, The Observer, The FT Weekend Magazine, Creative Review, The Calvert Journal, Aperture, FOAM, IMA, Aesthetica and Apollo Magazine. Prior to going freelance, she wrote and edited at BJP for 15 years. She has also curated exhibitions for institutions such as The Photographers Gallery and Lianzhou Foto Festival. You can follow her on instagram @dismy

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