Deana Lawson wins the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2022

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The artist scoops the £30,000 prize for her solo exhibition Centropy at Kunsthalle Basel

Deana Lawson’s poetic explorations of Black life are carefully choreographed, drawing on art history and traditions of photography to propose new means of considering the Black experience. The majority of her subjects are strangers – they are cast specifically for each image – yet there is a powerful intimacy in the portraits. Lawson describes this as a mythological extended family – part of the artist’s continued interest in community, spirituality, and dreams. 

This evening, Lawson was announced as the winner of this year’s Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. The New York born-and-bred artist has been awarded the prestigious £30,000 prize for her solo exhibition Centropy at Kunsthalle Basel in 2020. 

The work is currently on show at The Photographers’ Gallery in Soho, where Lawson is exhibiting alongside three other nominees for the prize: Gilles Peress, Jo Ractliffe, and Anastasia Samoylova. The show marks Lawson’s first institutional exhibition in the UK. Her large-scale photographs – made between 2013 and 2020 – are encased in mirrored frames, presented alongside holograms and blocks of crystal. 

Brett Rogers OBE, Director, The Photographers’ Gallery and Chair of Jury said: “[Deana Lawson’s] work, which reframes and reclaims the Black experience, harnesses the traditional and the experimental and opens up a very unique connection between the everyday and the mystical… The boldness of her vision and the empowered sensibility she brings to her protagonists is clearly the result of a carefully nuanced collaboration with her cast of ‘family’ members, which places her in a rare position of partner or narrator rather than auteur.”

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2022 is on show at The Photographers’ Gallery until 12 June 2022. 

Marigold Warner

Online Editor

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.