Themes of cultural identity and political conflict prevail in this year’s shortlist for the MACK First Book Award, which includes dummy photobooks that explore interracial marriage in Zimbabwe, the UK’s June 2016 referendum on EU membership, and young Turkish immigrants living in Europe, plus others addressing universal themes of family, time, and space.
The prestigious award is now in its eighth year, having been set up in 2012 to support emerging and unpublished photographers. The First Book Award has helped launch the careers of image-makers like Paul Salveson and Joanna Piotrowska, via shortlists nominated by a panel of international experts – until now. This year, for first time, the shortlist has been drawn from an open call.
“One of the things we are attempting to remove is the notion that unless you’re connected, unless you’re in the know and have contacts in that sphere, you can’t go forward,” said Michael Mack, founder of MACK, to bjp-online in December 2018. “We want to discourage that idea.”
The shortlist was compiled by five industry experts, including Michael Mack, founder of MACK; Sarah Allen, assistant curator at Tate Modern; Emma Bowkett, director of photography at the FT Weekend Magazine; Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa, photographer and writer; and Polly Fleury, director of special projects at the Wilson Centre for Photography.
The shortlisted books are: E2-E4 by Jacob Clayton; Turunc by Solene Gun: Oobanken by Jerome Ming; 1972 by Rachel Monosov & Admire Kamudzengerere; The Buzzer by Miguel Proença; June by Tereza Cervenova; Flattened in Time and Space by Angelo Vignali; Alexander by Michal Siarek; Czarna Madonna (Black Madonna) by Jagoda Wisniewska; and Days by Alia Zapparova