For the past fourteen years, British Journal of Photography has invited talented photographers from all over the world to enter our International Photography Awards. This year five artists have made the shortlist – Copenhagen-based collective Sara, Peter and Tobias; Polish-born and London-based photographer Paulina Otylie Surys; Indian photographer Poulomi Basu; Harit Srikhao, a photographer from Thailand; and Alys Tomlinson, who lives and often shoots in the UK. Their work ranges from a study of simulated realities, to a complex portrayal of the protracted fight for land and resources in Central India over the last 50 years, and a dreamlike series that draws on idolatry and Hindu cosmology.
All five finalists will receive VIP access to this year’s Photo London and Peckham 24, with travel and accommodation provided for those living outside London. The winner will get a professional review and reprint of their portfolio, and a £5000 production grant from Metro Imaging towards a solo show at TJ Boulting, a leading, central London gallery.
This year the entries were judged by an acclaimed panel comprised of Fariba Farshad, co-founding director at Photo London; Simon Bainbridge, editorial director at British Journal of Photography; Mark Sealy MBE, director of Autograph ABP; Alona Pardo, curator at the Barbican; Fiona Rogers, global business development manager at Magnum Photos; and Hannah Watson, director at TJ Boulting.
“It is incredibly rewarding to get such recognition from the experts in my field,” says Paulina Otylie Surys, whose shortlisted Dreamatorium series delves into the phantoms of her early childhood in the Polish People’s Republic. Using Polish motifs such as ornate rugs and family portraits set against backgrounds of red meat, Dreamatorium combines nostalgia with fear. “The project started with me visiting Poland for the first time since I left it 10 years ago. The visit triggered lots of memories and allowed me to see things which I would have before taken for granted.”
For photographer Alys Tomlinson, whose series Ex-Voto charts the hidden marks and offerings left at pilgrimage sites across Europe, the judges’ recognition has motivated her to do more on the project. “My kind of photography can be quite isolating,” she tells us. “To have these interests recognised as resonating beyond my own curious impulses – to see what has been a photographic pilgrimage for me have meaning for others – is both exciting and encouraging.”
Poulomi Basu’s series Centralia was shortlisted for the Mack First Book Award last year, and has earned recognition from IPA judges too. An honest investigation into the brutalities of India’s ongoing civil war over the last 50 years, Centralia draws on documentary practices to reflect the bewildering atmosphere of the region, bringing a conflict largely unreported in western media to an international audience.
Harit Srikhao explains of his Mt Meru series that, “these images are recreations of the pictures of ‘the king’.” The series observes Thailand’s current political situation, and attempts to make sense of Thai society through abstract visuals and interpretations of scenes of worship. The series draws on idolatry and Hindu cosmology, challenging social structure and hierarchy.
Finally, Copenhagen-based collective Sara Galbiati, Peter Eriksen and Tobias Markussen have been shortlisted for their series The Merge, an in-depth investigation of artificial intelligence and robotics that explores the idea we are living inside a simulation. The artists came together as a collective in 2015 and quickly made a name for themselves with their first photobook Phenomena, which explored the human need for faith via modern myths such as UFOs.
The winner will be announced later this month; past winners include Edmund Clark, Juno Calypso, and last year’s Daniel Castro Garcia, who was recognised for his series Foreigner: Migration into Europe 2015-16. As judge and Autograph ABP director Mark Sealy MBE puts it, “For emerging photographers, a solo exhibition offers a way to gain exposure; if you can get a solo show, use it in the best possible way.”
The deadline for applications for the 2019 edition of BJP International Photography Award is 20 December 2018 – 4pm GMT. Apply now!