Poulomi Basu, Alejandro Cartagena, Cao Fei and Zineb Sedira shortlisted for the 25th Deutsche Börse award

View Gallery 8 Photos
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Four artists are in the running for this year’s prestigious prize. Their work will be exhibited at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, in spring 2021

Each year, the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize shortlists four artists who have made a significant contribution to photography in the last 12 months. For many, 2020 will be remembered as a quiet year for artists, galleries, and publishers. But this year’s shortlist for the £30,000 prize suggests otherwise. From India, to Mexico, China, and Algeria, the selected works explore issues affecting both local and global subjects. 

Poulomi Basu is shortlisted for her photobook Centralia, a complex investigation of conflict in Central India. Published by Dewi Lewis, it explores a 50-year war that is virtually unknown outside the subcontinent. Basu’s photobook, which she describes as “docu-fiction”, depicts land grabs, forced displacement, and state executions of this hidden war, exploring the relationship between reality and fiction, and how our perception of truth can be manipulated.

From Centralia. © Poulomi Basu.
From A Small Guide To Homeownership. © Alejandro Cartagena.

Alejandro Cartagena’s shortlisted photobook, a scathing critique of northern Mexico’s housing crisis, combines over 15 years of work. A Small Guide To Homeownership, published by The Velvet Cell, explores the effects of urban development. From transportation and infrastructure to private and public bureaucracy, it examines the challenges of this unplanned growth, through the eyes of a series of protagonists and a documentation of the broader ecological consequences.

Cao Fei‘s first solo exhibition in the UK, Blueprints at Serpentine Gallery, London, presented new and existing works that explored the rapid growth of technology and internet culture. The Chinese artist examines the way in which this has altered our perception of self, and the way we understand and navigate reality. Creating surreal and often darkly comic dystopian fictions, Fei’s work scrutinises systems of surveillance, production and labour.

© Cao Fei.
© Zineb Sedira.

Zineb Sedira has been nominated for her exhibition, A Brief Moment at Jeu de Paume, Paris, her first major retrospective, which combined photography, installation and film to explore themes of identity, gender, and environment. The Algerian artist’s use of archival material explores the function of images in reconstructing meaning, through the process of collecting and exhibiting. 

An exhibition of the work, curated by Anna Dannemann, will take place at the Photographers’ Gallery from 19 March until 27 June 2021. The winner of the award will be announced in late spring, with details to be confirmed in January 2021. 

Marigold Warner

Marigold Warner joined the British Journal Photography in April 2018, and currently holds the position of Online Editor. She studied English Literature and History of Art at the University of Leeds, followed by an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London. Her work has been published by titles including the Telegraph Magazine, Huck, Gal-dem, Disegno, and the Architects Journal.