Dana Lixenberg awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize
The Dutch photographer was awarded the £30,000 prize for her project Imperial Courts, which she worked on between 1993 and 2015, capturing the lives of the community of the Imperial Courts housing project in Watts, Los Angeles. Brett Rogers, director of the Photographers’ Gallery, and non-voting president of the 2017 jury, has commented, saying that Lixenberg’s work represents an “affirmation of photography’s power to address important ideas through pure image.”
Lixenberg follows in the footsteps of several of the most internationally renowned photographers, including Trevor Paglen (2016), Mikhael Subotzky (2015), Richard Mosse (2014) as well as Juergen Teller, (2003) and Andreas Gursky (1998).
Born in the Netherlands in 1964, Lixenberg travelled to Los Angeles for the first time in 1992 for a magazine story covering the LA riots. What she saw inspired her to revisit the area, and led her to encounter the people of the Imperial Courts housing project, whom she photographed over the course of twenty-two years, creating an evocative record of the lives of an underrepresented community. Over the years, Imperial Courts has gone from being the epicenter of race riots to an anonymous deprived neighbourhood,” said Lixenberg and Eefje Blankevoort, who co-directed the documentary inspired by Lixenberg’s photographic work. “The media attention has died down, but the lives of the residents go on.”
Yannick Bouillis, founder of Offprint projects and responsible for awarding Lixenberg the 2015 Photobook of the year prize at Paris Photo, drew a comparison between Lixenberg’s work and that of David Goldblatt, who documented the lives of South Africans during the apartheid.
Dee Dee with her son Emir in 2013 – one of the images from the photography series Imperial Courts. Photograph: Dana Lixenberg
Lixenberg’s work “is simultaneously understated and emphatic, reflecting a cool sobriety, which allows her subjects to own the gaze and their contexts without sentimentality or grandiosity,” said Brett Rogers.
The artist, who has collaborated with Newsweek,Vibe, New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker and Rolling Stone, was chosen from a shortlist including artists Sophie Calle, Awoiska van der Molen and Taiyo Onorato and Nico Kreb, by a jury composed of curator Susan Bright, artist Pieter Hugo, Centre Pompidou curator Karolina Lewandowska and Anne-Marie Beckmann, director of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation.
The shortlisted projects are on show at the Photographers’ Gallery until June 11, before travelling to the MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst (Frankfurt) and to the Aperture Foundation (New York).
J 50, 2008 © Dana Lixenberg. Courtesy of the artist and Grimm, Amsterdam
Toussaint, 1993 © Dana Lixenberg. Courtesy of the artist and Grimm, Amsterdam