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Sunil Gupta and Maria Kapajeva are the joint-winners of the Kraszna-Krausz Photobook Award

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Gupta and Kapajeva’s winning publications both investigate cultural identity

The 36th annual award Kraszna-Krausz Photobook Award has been joint-awarded to Sunil Gupta’s From Here to Eternity (published by Autograph in association with The PhotographersGallery and the Ryerson Image Centre) and Maria Kapajeva’s Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear (Milda Books). Both publications have been selected for their contemporary cultural relevance and originality, exploring social injustice, independence, and complex networks of cultural identity.

Gupta’s From Here to Eternity, which was also presented as a retrospective exhibition at The Photographers Gallery, tells an intimate story blending LBTQ+ activism in Britain, America, Canada and India with the artists’ own familial history. Through a collection of images made over almost half a century, Gupta reflects on his own experiences of queerness, political action, migration and memory, all while uniting the work through a wider context of protest, race, nationality and sexuality.

From the series From Here to Eternity, © Sunil Gupta.

Kapajeva’s Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear draws on the artist’s personal experiences and memories of her Estonian childhood hometown of Narva, leading up to the transition to independence from Russian state control. A unifying collectivity of womanhood is at the heart of the book, as Kapajeva uses her hometowns textile factory as a launching point to understand the women of her childhood. The factory, a major employer in Narva, can be felt through the books interior and exterior – the book itself being bound by a fabric produced at the mill, where Kapajeva’s mother works as head designer.

From the series Dream is Wonderful, Yet Unclear, © Maria Kapajeva.

Each year, the Kraszna-Krausz award focuses on works that amplify voices that go unheard, specifically searching for publications that tell stories from an insightful and attentive perspective. With over 180 submissions and a shortlist including publications by Poulomi Basu and Myles Russell-Cook, the judging panel paid close attention not just to the books images, but their haptic natures; texture, design, and the overall qualities of the works were all taken into account.

“Both winners tell pertinent stories, beautifully told through a combination of carefully selected images, texts and inventive design – they resonate with the social and political conditions of contemporary times,” said juror Anna Fox (professor of photography at the University for the Creative Arts, London). As well as Fox, the final jury consisted of Patrizia Di Bello (professor of History and Theory of Photography at Birkbeck, University of London)  and Jennie Ricketts, (independent photography editor, curator, consultant and mentor).

Sir Brian Pomeroy CBE, Chair of the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation, said: “There were so many fantastic submissions this year. We continue to see the industry grow in creativity, ingenuity and design. The winners are true reflections of the international landscape, and demonstrate the importance of photography in giving a voice to the unheard, and shining a light on contemporary issues and society.”

Isaac Huxtable

Isaac Huxtable joined the British Journal of Photography in October 2020, where he is currently the Editorial Assistant. Prior to this, he studied a BA in History of Art at the Courtauld Instititue of Art, London.

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