Lebohang Kganye wins the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize

© Lebohang Kganye

The South African artist has been recognised for her sociopolitical mixed-media show in Amsterdam

Lebohang Kganye has been awarded the 2024 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize. The South African artist has been recognised for her exhibition Haufi nyana? I’ve come to take you home – presented at Foam, Amsterdam, last year – which explores South African conceptions of home, belonging and identity in a mixed-media presentation.

Kganye’s installation Mohlokomedi wa Tora is currently on display at The Photographers’ Gallery in London alongside works by her fellow 2024 nominees Valie Export, Gauri Gill & Rajesh Vangad, and Hrair Sarkissian. The South African artist will collect £30,000, while the other shortlisted artists will each receive £5,000.

© Lebohang Kganye

The Deutsche Börse is one of photography’s most prestigious awards, recognising an artist and project having made “the most significant contribution to photography over the previous 12 months”. Originally established by The Photographers’ Gallery in 1996, the prize represents a significant milestone in an artist’s career, with previous winners including Andreas Gursky (1998), Walid Raad (2007), Richard Mosse (2014) and Deana Lawson (2022). Last year’s prize was won by Samuel Fosso for his eponymous exhibition at Paris’ Maison Européenne de la Photographie. This year’s jury featured Rahaab Allana, curator at Alkazi Foundation for the Arts, New Delhi; Anne-Marie Beckmann, director of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation; and Clare Grafik, acting director of The Photographers’ Gallery.

Born in Johannesburg in 1990, Lebohang Kganye came to image-making via the city’s Market Photo Workshop, where she completed an Advanced Photography Programme in 2011. Her resulting project, B(l)ack to Fairy Tales, reimagined western fairy tales via constructed self-portraiture, inserting herself as ‘Snow Black’ into stories by Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Andersen and Walt Disney. The project, set in South African townships familiar from her upbringing, was later chosen to represent South Africa at the 59th Venice Biennale in 2022.

Kganye then studied fine arts at the University of Johannesburg, graduating in 2016, and is currently enrolled in a fine arts master’s programme at the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. Her interest in the materiality of the medium has led to sculptural, performative and theatrical projects, drawing on references as wide as Muthi Nhlema’s science-fiction novellas, early-20th century colonial exhibitions of Cameroon, the artist’s mother tongue Sesotho, and the preciousness of Black family photo albums.

 

© Lebohang Kganye

Kganye’s innovative use of photography brings together past and present to explore the political through deeply personal stories of her own family and history

– Clare Grafik, acting director of The Photographers’ Gallery and jury chair.

Haufi nyana? I’ve come to take you home takes its title from the phrase ‘too close?’ in Sesotho, and manipulates the idea of photographic autobiography using life-size cut-out figures from family albums, as well as silhouettes and light installations. The work touches on the reality of life in post-apartheid South Africa through a personal family narrative, referencing land laws and enforced name changes, but also sees Kganye engage in her trademark narrative-creation, rewriting excerpts from South African literature into dramatic scripts.

“Kganye’s innovative use of photography brings together past and present to explore the political through deeply personal stories of her own family and history. Sometimes theatrical, always experimental, her use of photography and her own archives is powerful and refreshing,” says Grafik, acting director of The Photographers’ Gallery and jury chair. The exhibition showcasing all the shortlisted artists is at The Photographers’ Gallery until 02 June 2024.

Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize, is at The Photographers Gallery until 02 June

 

Ravi Ghosh

Ravi Ghosh is the deputy editor at British Journal of Photography. Previously, he was an editor at Elephant magazine and worked on the Life & Arts supplement at the Financial Times. He writes on arts and culture for The Guardian, Prospect, Tribune, i-D, Bandcamp, RA Magazine and more. He has also written photobook introductions for Tony Mak and Portrait of Humanity.