Award Ceremony 2019

Leica Oskar Barnack Award Ceremony 2019

Leica Camera AG honours this year’s LOBA winners Mustafah Abdulaziz and Nanna Heitmann in the course of a formal gala event in Berlin.

On September 25th the American photographer Mustafah Abdulaziz, the winner of this year’s Leica Oskar Barnack Award, and German photographer Nanna Heitmann, the winner of the Newcomer Award, were honoured by Leica Camera AG before an audience of around 300 guests in Berlin’s St. Elisabeth church. The international jury of experts had chosen a total of twelve finalists from the 2,300 portfolios of photographs submitted to the competition. This year, the long-established, international award was presented for the 39th time at a formal gala event humorously hosted by American photographer Craig Semetko.

The monumental series entered by this year’s LOBA winner, Mustafah Abdulaziz, handled the universal theme of water. He has travelled the world for the past eight years on his search for images that illustrate the meaning of water – graphically and in a metaphorical sense. ‘Photographs have the potential to be beautiful by nature, but this makes me cautious. When it comes to content and composition, there must be a harmony with something else, otherwise I don’t believe them. When I don’t believe in them, I can’t expect the people who see them to believe in them, either. For the pictures in “Water”‚ this means that I evaluate every part of my visual approach over and over again. “Water” is my way of exploring the world, of taking part in it in a relevant and responsible way and lending meaning to an overwhelmingly big but immensely important topic. I work on this not only for the immense satisfaction it brings me, but also because it’s necessary. Our relationship to our planet could be the most important issue of our age.’ As the award winner in the main category, Mustafah Abdulaziz was presented with cash prize of 25,000 euros and Leica M-System equipment (a camera and lens) to the value of a further 10,000 euros.

A journey into the realm of myths and legends: The Yenisei, one of the world’s longest rivers, became the leading light of photographer Nanna Heitmann on her journey through Siberia. ‘It soon became clear to me that the role played by the river itself was not so important. Most of the time, I just kept my eyes open for interesting characters, because people have always sought protection and freedom on the banks of the Yenisei and in the neighbouring Taiga: serfs on the run, criminals, rebels, or simply adventurers and Orthodox believers’, explains Nanna Heitmann. Her series entitled ‘Hiding from Baba Yaga’ is inspired by children’s films of the Soviet era and Slavic folk tales from her childhood. She saw her journey not only as a documentation of life along the river, but also of the myths and folk tales of the region. As the winner of the Newcomer Award, she was presented with a cash prize of 10,000 euros, and also received a Leica rangefinder camera and lens. 

In addition to the work of the two award winners, the portfolios of the remaining ten finalists were also presented to the audience. The photographers each received a cash prize of 2,500 euros.

The portfolios of all twelve finalists are on view from 25 September to 25 October 2019 at a major exhibition with the kind support of Ilford Imaging Europe and Halbe-Rahmen in the ‘Neuen Schule für Fotografie’, Brunnenstrasse 188-190, 10119 Berlin. The LOBA Catalogue, presenting the winners and finalists in detail with comprehensive portfolios and background information, will be published to accompany the exhibition.