Trevor Paglen Wins The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016


Trevor Paglen (b.1974, USA) has been awarded the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016 at a special ceremony in The Photographers’ Gallery this evening, Thursday 2 June 2016. The £30,000 award was presented by BBC journalist and HARDtalk presenter Stephen Sackur. 

The Prize is awarded to a photographer of any nationality for their significant contribution to the medium of photography either through an exhibition or publication, in Europe between 1 October 2014 and 30 September 2015. 

Paglen won for his exhibition The Octopus at Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt, Germany (20 June – 30 August 2015). Paglen’s project aims to represent complex topics like mass surveillance, data collection, classified satellite and drone activities and the systems of power connected to them. Paglen’s installation comprise images of restricted military and government areas, skylines showing the flight tracks of passing drones, sculptural elements and research assembled in collaboration with scientist, amateur astronomers and human rights activists. Through his work Paglen demonstrates that secrets cannot be hidden from view, but that their traces and structures are visible evidence in the landscape.

Trevor Paglen was chosen by jury members: David Drake, Director Ffotogallery, Cardiff; Alfredo Jaar, Artist; Wim van Sinderen, Senior Curator at The Hague Museum of Photography; Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation and Brett Rogers, Director, The Photographers’ Gallery as the non-voting chair.

The other shortlisted artists for the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016, each awarded £3,000, are: Laura El-Tantawy (b. 1980, UK/Egypt) for her self-published photobook In the Shadow of the Pyramids (2015); Erik Kessels (b. 1966, The Netherlands) for his exhibition Unfinished Father at Fotografia Europea, Reggio Emilia, Italy (15 May – 31 July 2015) and Tobias Zielony (b. 1973, Germany) for The Citizen, exhibited as part of the German Pavilion presentation at the 56th Biennale of Arts, Venice, Italy (9 May – 22 November 2015).

The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016 is organised by The Photographers’ Gallery and is on display until 3 July 2016. It will be followed by a presentation at the Deutsche Börse headquarters in Frankfurt/Eschborn from 1 September – 31 October 2016.

Brett Rogers, non-voting Chair of the Jury and Director of The Photographers’ Gallery said, on behalf of the jury: The jury recognised Trevor Paglen’s project The Octopus for its significant contribution to current issues that deal with the disquieting impact of the unseen aspects of technology on our daily lives. They acknowledged the depth of research and variety of approaches he has developed to deal with subjects ranging from government and military surveillance to drone warfare.  He successfully transforms these invisible means of control into compelling aesthetic objects and photographs, often referencing modernist paintings. 

Anne-Marie Beckmann, Director, Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation said: We congratulate the winner of the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2016, Trevor Paglen. It is our great pleasure to continue the long term-commitment to the Prize and our engagement in promoting contemporary photography with the newly established Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation. We are delighted to present one of the most renowned photography prizes under its new title.