Daniel Shea wins the Foam Paul Huf Award 2018

“I’m a bit at a loss at the moment; to say that I’m honoured feels like an understatement,” says photographer Daniel Shea, who has won the 12th Foam Paul Huf Award. “I’ve been following this award and Foam for a long time, and I feel incredibly honored, grateful, lucky, and humbled by this opportunity.”

Shea has won the prize with his series 43-35 10th Street, described as a reflection on late capitalism and its effects on New York City. He wins €20,000 and a solo show at the Foam Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam, which will take place in Autumn this year.

Shea’s work was picked out from a longlist of 100 nominated photographers from 20 different countries, all aged under 35. “In a profoundly strong and varied list of international artists, the quality and consistency of Daniel Shea’s subjective visual idiom, greatly impressed the jury,” stated the jury.

“Using a variety of visual mediums, Shea’s work explores the complexity and ambiguities of urban development in his home city, New York. Drawing from his experience as a commercial photographer, Shea presents us with a seductive and disconcerting world of concrete, steel and glass, which traverses the boundaries of fact and fiction.”

Lic 7 from the series 43 35 10th street 2017 © Daniel Shea

Born in 1985, Shea received an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has been a resident artist at Light Work in Syracuse, and at Columbia College Chicago’s Digital Artist-In-Residence programme, where he published his first book, Blisner, Ill, in 2012. A fictional coal town, Blisner inspired a second book in 2014 titled Blisner, IL; Shea also published an untitled book of photographs of Los Angeles with Jason Nocito in 2015. A new book on 43-35 10th Street will be published by Kodoji Press this year.

43-35 10th Street began with a simple premise, he says – to observe the residential real estate boom in his neighbourhood in NYC, Long Island City, Queens. Once an industrial area Long Island City has rapidly gentrified, and is now home to MoMA PS1 plus glitzy high-rises which command sweeping views of Manhattan. His images of this area are juxtaposed with shots of government buildings in Brasilia, and with images of a dying industrial town in California – for Shea, if modernist architecture reflected a utopia of civic engagement, “neoliberalism’s departure comes in the form of a utopia of consumer engagement”.

Shea also submitted work from a 2016 project, Devil’s Lake, which was made in response to the US’ recent, deeply divisive presidential election campaign and which explores “political narratives told through symbols; land and social identity, particularly that of white men, magnified by a volatile presidential election cycle”.

Untitled 3 from the series 43 35 10th street 2017 © Daniel Shea

Foam has run the Paul Huf Award since 2007, and previous winners include Taryn Simon, Mikhael Subotzky, Pieter Hugo, and Daisuke Yokota. This year the jury was chaired by Gregory Barker, founder of the Stanley/Barker publishing company, and comprised: Marina Chao, assistant curator at New York’s International Center of Photography; Tristan Lund, a British independent art consultant and curator; Whitney Richardson a creative visual strategist and photo editor from the New York Times; and Lars Willumeit, a Swiss independent curator and art educator.

Paul Huf (1924-2002) was a Dutch photographer known for his innovative photographic techniques, who helped establish the Foam Fotografiemuseum in Amsterdam in 2001.


Searles Valley IV from the series 43 35 10th street 2017 © Daniel Shea
Untitled 2 from the series Devils Lake 2016 © Daniel Shea
Untitled 3 from the series Devils Lake 2016 © Daniel Shea
Daniel Shea, photographed by Mark Peckmezian
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