Introducing this year’s winning titles by Sohrab Hura, Hannah Darabi, Gao Shan and Drew Nikonowicz
Out of 35 shortlisted titles that were drawn from over 1,000 submissions, the winners of this year’s Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards were announced at Paris Photo today. Sohrab Hura’s The Coast scooped Photobook of the Year, and Hannah Darabi’s Enghelab Street, a Revolution through Books: Iran 1979–1983 was awarded Photography Catalogue of the Year. Gao Shan’s The Eighth Day received First Photobook, and a juror’s special mention was given to Drew Nikonowicz’s This World and Others Like It.
The winners were selected by a final jury at Paris Photo, which included curator Irene Attinger, artist Takashi Homma, Osei Bonsu (curator of international art at Tate Modern), Emma Bowkett, (director of photography at FT Weekend Magazine), and Nina Strand (founder of Objektiv Press).
Below, we introduce each of the winning titles.
Photobook of the Year: The Coast by Sohrab Hura
The Coast by Sohrab Hura opens with a short story about a woman whose head has been stolen by her obsessive lover. In the dark but vibrant pages that follow, hedonistic images of sex and violence along the Indian coastline are sequenced between 11 slightly-different versions of the introductory short story. Selected from a shortlist of ten books, The Coast is the Indian photographer’s latest iteration of his long-term project on the undercurrents of violence, The Lost Head and the Bird, and is self-published under his own imprint UGLY DOG.
“Almost like a novel or a thriller in its format, cover, and design, it’s a photobook that works on the same level as a challenging work of fiction,” said publisher and juror Nina Strand. Emma Bowkett praised The Coast as “a lyrical, political narrative with a strong, determined voice”. Hura, one of BJP’s Ones to Watch in 2011, was also shortlisted for Photobook of the Year in 2018 for Look It’s Getting Sunny Outside!!!.
Photography Catalogue of the Year: Enghelab Street, a Revolution through Books: Iran 1979–1983 by Hannah Darabi
Paris-based Iranian visual artist and collector Hannah Darabi’s winning catalogue is co-published by Spector and Le Bal on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution (1979), alongside an exhibition earlier this year at Le Bal, Paris. Enghelab Street, a Revolution through Books: Iran 1979–1983 presents a selection of photographic and propaganda books published during the period at the end of the Shah’s regime, in which freedom of speech prevailed. Darabi’s workis accompanied by an essay written by researcher and scholar Chowra Makaremi.
Selected from a shortlist of five books, juror and curator Irene Attinger highlighted it as an important addition to the narrative of the photobook with its focus on underground protest and propaganda. “It is a critical work by a female artist and scholar; it brings together specialised research and an artist perspective with a very strong design.”
Jurors’ Special Mention: This World and Others Like It by Drew Nikonowicz
This year’s special mention was given to Drew Nikonowicz’s This World and Others Like It, an investigation into how technology mediates our experience of the world. Co-published by Yoffy Press and Fw:Books, it combines computer modelling with analogue processes, drawing on 19th-century survey images to question our modern relationship with record making.
Curator and juror Osei Bonsu described the title as “a strong example of an artist working at the interstices of art and science, asking pertinent questions about photography in the contemporary world”. This World and Others Like It was one of the 20 shortlisted books for this year’s First Photobook Award.
First Photobook: The Eighth Day by Gao Shan
Awarded a prize of $10,000, Gao Shan’s winning photobook, The Eighth Day, takes its title from personal history: the day he was adopted by his new mother. According to the photographer’s afterword, his relationship with his adopted mother was characterised by coldness and indifference, but recently he has begun to regard her as more than just a presence in his life. Using his camera, not for cold observation, but as an active tool in their relationship, he presents an intimate photographic document of their lives.
Artist and juror, Takashi Homma observed that while the work appears to be a straightforward documentary, it also employs a “performative and conceptual approach in a sophisticated way.” Published by Imageless, a studio based in Wuxi, China, the book was selected from a shortlist of 20.