With “Grenzen / Borders” we all immediately recall images from the summer of 2015 of the flow of refugees in front of hastily erected barbed-wire borders. And in Germany we inevitably think of the lethal border that until 1989 cut through the country. As the 2017 competition brief states, borders are physically present and clearly legible or subtly noticeable, are perceived as protection or deterrent. The works submitted take this up and in extremely different ways tell of enclosure and exclusion.
“Grenzen / Borders” European Architectural Photography Prize 2017
May 6 – August 6, 2017
Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM)
Schaumainkai 43, Frankfurt am Main
With its specific provisions, the competition aimed from the outset to promote an artistic, photographic exploration of the built environment. A series of four images enables stories to be told; the specific topic gives direction, but also always allows great leeway. What started out as an initiative of db deutsche bauzeitung has since 2003 been continued, with a great deal of voluntary work, by architekturbild e.v., which back then had recently been founded.
The association is responsible for the competition, the touring exhibition, and the catalog. 2008 saw the beginning of the partnership with Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM), which subsequently took over the initial presentation of the prize-winning competition entries and became the venue for the award ceremony. The cooperation agreement with Deutsches Architekturmuseum (DAM) also included the handing over of the competition archive, which is now part of the Frankfurt institute’s collection. In 2016 the Bundesstiftung Baukultur became the third partner.
To date the vast majority of entries come from German-speaking countries, where the competition originated. Photographers from ten countries including Japan, Canada, and the USA took part in the 2017 competition. 133 series of images were submitted. This was less than in previous years, but the quality was consistently high.
Ultimately, 28 series were honored. In 2017 the jury, as always made up of members from a wide range of professions and nations, was chaired by Celina Lunsford, Artistic Director of Fotografie Forum Frankfurt. Alongside the photographic quality it particularly took into consideration the serial link between the images submitted as well as creativity with regard to the handling of the topic, whether it was interpreted in an experimental, narrative, documentary, strict, or surprising manner.
1st prize went to the Berlin photographer Andreas Gehrke. His series entitled “Arrival” won the jury over with its unusual visualization of one of the major problems of our time. By taking a close look at the accommodation allocated to refugees, he succeeds in revealing the alienation of the people and the impact of exclusion and homelessness.
Three 2nd prizes were awarded in 2017. The series “Revier” by Matthias Jung shows us boarded-up façades, which to the viewer look almost surreal. Exclusion, here too; there is no way back for the former inhabitants. The deserted ghost town will soon succumb to surface mining. In his work entitled “Stone Record”, Daniel Poller documents conversion, demolition, and new builds in a totally different way.
Contemporary structures are encroaching on historical architecture such that only façades remain. What is old becomes a decorative backdrop for a city that can do little to counter the laws of the real-estate market. Die im Dunklen is the title Wilhelm Schünemann gave his entry.
Reflective windows and curtains prevent a view inside the offices of corporations that have opened close to the Bundestag, the German parliament, where they quietly go about their lobbying. Alexander Beck, Martin Dziuba, Philippe Grollier, Wolfram Janzer, and Sally-AnnNorman were also honored.