Award Ceremony 2017
The award ceremony of the international photographic competition, held every year since 1979, took once again place in Berlin – close to the birthplace of Oskar Barnack in Lynow, Nuthe-Urstromtal.
Around 2,700 photographers from a total of 104 different countries submitted entries to the ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2017’. On 13 September 2017, the two winners and the ten finalists of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2017 have been honored in the course of a gala award ceremony and exhibition opening in Berlin attended by more than 300 invited guests from around the globe.
The winner in the category ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2017’ is Terje Abusdal. Born in Norway, Terje Abusdal was honoured with this prestigious photography prize for „Slash & Burn“. Tradition and mysticism, provenance and belonging, facts and fiction: Terje Abusdal’s long-term “Slash & Burn” project draws a picture both mysterious and impressive of the Forest Finns, an ethnic group in Norway who live in close touch with nature.
In the south-east of Norway, along the border with Sweden, there is a sparsely populated morainal landscape with a great amount of forest. The area is known as ‘Finnskogen’, Forest of the Finns. It was settled by Finns between the end of the 16th and middle of the 17th century. Coming from Savo in central Finland, they slashed and burned the untouched, coniferous forests, to create new agricultural land for cultivating rye. Nowadays, most Forest Finns earn their living as lumberjacks, foresters and farmers. Their original culture and language has largely died out, with only a few traditions, rituals, rune songs and memories of shamanic customs remaining.
The ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer 2017’ went to photographer Sergey Melnitchenko for his series „Behind the Scenes“. Virtually no photographer has got as close to the dancers at a Chinese club as the Ukrainian Sergey Melnitchenko. He was with them backstage, offering rare insight into life in the cheap entertainment business. His own experience as a dancer served him well. With great sensitivity, the images reveal the reality of a tough profession despite its frolicsome appearance under the spotlight.
Somewhere in China, at the crack of dawn after a long night’s work: sweating transvestites, girls in baths full of beer, drunk performers and an even larger number of drunks among the audience. Battered legs, feet worn down from dancing, fish-net stockings, the harsh light of the dressing room. Scratches and scars, many made invisible by the fact that they are engraved on the soul: all part of daily life in the cheap entertainment business for tourists and locals in China – though it could be anywhere, in fact. To deliver this kind of insight, it is not enough to be up close. Like Sergey Melnitchenko, you need to be part of the whole scene. His pictures reveal his experience as a dancer, grimy and in your face.
Leica Camera AG presents the works of all twelve finalists in the context of a major exhibition at the ‘Neuen Schule für Fotografie’, Berlin, from 14 September until 15 October 2017.