A new show at Aperture’s New York gallery presents work from the winner of this year’s Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize, Dana Lixenberg, along with the prize’s shortlisted artists, Sophie Calle, Awoiska van der Molen and the duo Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs. The show, opening tonight and on view until January 11, is the first exhibition of the prize in the U.S., after stops in London and Frankfurt.
Dana Lixenberg’s winning book Imperial Courts presents more than 20 years of her work with the residents of a housing project in Watts, in South Central Los Angeles, a project that grew out of a magazine assignment about the aftermath of the Rodney King riots in 1992. Returning many times, Lixenberg collaborated with the men and women she met there, creating a portrait of a community over time. As Lixenberg told an interviewer earlier this year, in portraying the neighborhood, the media, focused on gangs, “would come in a van, shoot an item, and leave,” she says. “I felt photography was a way to step into the real scenario. I worked with a large-format camera on a tripod, slowing down the process, and focused on details and body language.”
Awoiska van der Molen was nominated for her exhibition “Blanco,” which included abstract, black and white landscapes made in remote parts of Japan, Norway, Crete and elsewhere. Working slowly and intuitively, Van der Molen explores the formal and emotional qualities of these places. She told a recent interviewer about her process. “It’s not meditation, exactly, but it’s a state of mind that occurs when you are very open to the landscape, a moment when your mind slows down on its own. Normally, I’m too worried about little things and all this stops when I’m alone in nature. I can leave behind the luxuries and the wi-fi and the distractions and finally discover myself.”
Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs were nominated for their exhibition “EURASIA,” which constructs a real and imagined version of a road trip from Switzerland, through the Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia to end in Mongolia, recorded with large format cameras, 16mm film and installations that include interviews. As Onorato told an interviewer, “The thing about a trip like this is that you’re always just scratching the surface—or driving across the surface—and the landscape around you constantly changes. It remains a very personal look at things, and what I like about working with imagery is that you can tell the truth with it, but you can also lie with it, and mix everything together. It’s always your own construction.”
Sophie Calle’s publication My All presents an overview of her long career, in the form of postcards highlighting her mischievous and unorthodox pieces that use photography, performance and text to tell stories and ask questions—events she called “private games.” Among the works featured in the book are “Suite Venetienne,” in which she followed a man from Paris to Venice and tracked his movements; “The Sleepers,” in which she asked strangers to sleep in her bed and documented their stay there; and “Exquisite Pain,” in which she repeatedly told people the story of her breakup with a boyfriend and asked them to recall their own most painful moments. An excerpt from latter is on view in the show.
What these artists share, the gallery writes in a statement, is a commitment to “investigate questions of truth and fiction, doubt and certainty, what constitutes the real and ideal, and the relationship between observer and the observed.”