The Winners

The Leica Oskar Barnack Award winners and their prize-winning series
from 1980 to 2020.

Overview of the winners 1980–2020

Overview of the winners 1980–2020

The Leica Oskar Barnack Award has been granted since 1980. The occasion for the launch of the competition was the centenary in 1979 of Oskar Barnack (1879–1936), the leading inventor and pioneer of 35mm photography. Since then, the winning series have produced a vibrant archive of the history of photography and photojournalism. The list of award winners provides an initial overview, while the individual presentations on this web-page offer further insight into the photographers and their series.

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Winner 2020: Luca Locatelli

Winner 2020: Luca Locatelli

The winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2020 is the Italian photographer Luca Locatelli. For his series "Future Studies" he was awarded in the main category in LOBA's anniversary year. In addition to the prize money, which has been increased to 40,000 euros this year, Luca Locatelli also receives camera equipment valued at 10,000 euros.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2020: Gonçalo Fonseca

Winner Award Newcomer 2020: Gonçalo Fonseca

The Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer 2020 goes to the Portuguese photographer Gonçalo Fonseca. For his series "New Lisbon" he was honoured in the young talent category in LOBA's anniversary year. As winner of the Newcomer Award, Gonçalo Fonseca receives a photographic assignment, a two-week tutoring course at Leica Camera AG Headquarters in Wetzlar, and a Leica Q, valued at 5,000 euros.

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Winner 2019: Mustafah Abdulaziz

Winner 2019: Mustafah Abdulaziz

With his epic long-term project, “Water”, Mustafah Abdulaziz, winner of the 2019 Leica Oskar Barnack Award, is underlining his understanding of photography. He has packed this universal theme into powerful imagery, producing a visual commentary on the relationship between humanity and the environment.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2019: Nanna Heitmann

Winner Award Newcomer 2019: Nanna Heitmann

A seemingly endless river, enchanted forests, and people in search of freedom: in her series, which earned her the 2019 LOBA Newcomer Award, Nanna Heitmann documented life along the banks of the Yenisei River. One of the longest rivers in the world, it served as a leitmotif, guiding her through Siberia to the completion of her series depicting a journey into a kingdom of myths.

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Winner 2018: Max Pinckers

Winner 2018: Max Pinckers

Independent photographs that bear witness to the reality of life in the insular country that is North Korea are few and far between. With his “Red Ink” series, the winner of the 2018 Leica Oskar Barnack Award opens up another chapter – revealing a staged version of reality under the Kim regime.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2018: Mary Gelman

Winner Award Newcomer 2018: Mary Gelman

Svetlana, a community created by the Camphill Movement, lies 150 kilometres east of St. Petersburg. It is a place where people with disabilities can live and work, independently and far from prejudice and discrimination. Mary Gelman visited Svetlana many times over two years, capturing everyday life there in gentle and poetic images. The series earned her the 2018 LOBA Newcomer Award.

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Winner 2017: Terje Abusdal

Winner 2017: Terje Abusdal

Tradition and mysticism, provenance and belonging, fact and fiction: in the series “Slash & Burn”, which received the LOBA 2017, Terje Abusdal draws a picture both mysterious and impressive of the Forest Finns, an ethnic group in Norway who lives in close touch with nature.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2017: Sergey Melnitchenko

Winner Award Newcomer 2017: Sergey Melnitchenko

It would be hard to get any closer than the Ukrainian Sergey Melnitchenko got to his protagonists: he himself worked as a dancer in the Chinese dance club where his series about the joys and sufferings of backstage life was taken. Up close and personal, he took a look behind the scenes. With his series, he succeeded as LOBA Newcomer in 2017.

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Winner 2016: Scarlett Coten

Winner 2016: Scarlett Coten

In her series “Mectoub”, which was awarded the LOBA in 2016, the French photographer questions the roles and image of men in the Arab world. Her portraits draw attention to the discrepancy between social conformity and individual longing. Coten is well-versed in the Arab world, which she has been exploring repeatedly in long-term photographic projects since graduating from her studies.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2016: Clémentine Schneidermann

Winner Award Newcomer 2016: Clémentine Schneidermann

The French photographer, winner of the LOBA Newcomer Award 2016, has nurtured a relationship with Wales for many years. This is where she produced her series that intrinsically combines documentary, portrait and fashion photography.

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Winner 2015: JH Engström

Winner 2015: JH Engström

In his series, which earned him the LOBA in 2015, the Swedish photographer gives visual form to existential states. Without focussing on one specific style, he collects various impressions of rural and urban scenes – impressions that correspond to his emotions. In doing so, he explores what existence is really about.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2015: Wiktoria Wojciechowska

Winner Award Newcomer 2015: Wiktoria Wojciechowska

Passing by in the blink of an eye: Wiktoria Wojciechowska photographed Chinese cyclists riding in the inclement, ongoing rain. She considers her snapshot-like images real portraits, as they speak of the truth of an undisguised moment. In 2015, the Polish photographer received the Newcomer Award for her “Short Flashes” series.

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Winner 2014: Martin Kollar

Winner 2014: Martin Kollar

For his project, the Slovak photographer travelled regularly to Israel between 2009 and 2011. There he tried to capture the special mood and, above all, tense atmosphere of the country. Reminiscent of surreal film stills with deep symbolism, his “Field Trip” series still manages to reflect reality. The work earned Kollar the Leica Oskar Barnack Award in 2014.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2014: Alejandro Cegarra

Winner Award Newcomer 2014: Alejandro Cegarra

It was to be a magnificent building and Venezuela’s answer to Wall Street – but it became the eyesore of the capital Caracas. The construction of the Centro Financiero Confinanzas started in 1990, but could never be completed. Finally, the ruined building was occupied by around 2500 people in 2007. Alejandro Cegarra was able to gain their trust, and produce a reportage about this very special housing community. The series earned the Venezuelan photographer the Newcomer Award in 2014.

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Winner 2013: Evgenia Arbugaeva

Winner 2013: Evgenia Arbugaeva

After almost 20 years, the photographer returned to the place of her childhood: Tiksi in Siberia. In the series, for which she was awarded the LOBA in 2013, Arbugaeva links her memories with the present in a special visual language; reality merges with fictional moments. Everyday life becomes extraordinary through the intentional use of a child’s eye and imagination.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2013: Ciril Jazbec

Winner Award Newcomer 2013: Ciril Jazbec

In 2012, Ciril Jazbec travelled to Shishmaref, Sarichef Island, Alaska, to report on the effects of climate change on the lives of the Iñupiat. The resulting series is an impressive report about a threatened community caught between tradition and modern life. Jazbec was honoured with the Newcomer Award for his series in 2013.

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Winner 2012: Frank Hallam Day

Winner 2012: Frank Hallam Day

Strange objects in the dark of the night: in this series, the winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2012 observes Americans seeking to escape everyday life in their recreational vehicles (RVs). The American photographer has placed the vacation vehicles themselves at the centre of his series – they appear strange and randomly placed, yet also eerie and mysterious.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2012: Piotr Zbierski

Winner Award Newcomer 2012: Piotr Zbierski

Feelings and passion that take on visual form. Piotr Zbierski takes the viewer on a journey where the context is left in the dark, making his impulsive photographs all the more unusual. Although he travelled through Europe and Asia, the series, with which he was honoured as the LOBA Newcomer in 2012, is actually about his own inner journey.

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Winner 2011: Jan Grarup

Winner 2011: Jan Grarup

A devastating earthquake struck the island of Haiti on January 12, 2010. Commissioned by different magazines, the Danish photographer travelled to the Caribbean state, to report on the effects of the natural disaster. In 2011, his series was granted the Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2011: Jing Huang

Winner Award Newcomer 2011: Jing Huang

Traditional Chinese painting places less emphasis on meticulous detail and more on emotional delivery. Jing Huang applies this philosophy to his photography. With his Leica M4-P he has transformed the trivial things of everyday life into dreamy, poetic works of art.

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Winner 2010: Jens Olof Lasthein

Winner 2010: Jens Olof Lasthein

After a period of unrest and civil war, the Republic of Abkhazia in South Caucasus proclaimed its independence; but under international law it belongs to Georgia. This is a politically difficult situation that is also reflected in everyday living conditions. The Swedish photographer took this uncertainty as the starting point for his series, which was honoured with the 2010 Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2010: Andy Spyra

Winner Award Newcomer 2010: Andy Spyra

The Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award, granted for the second time in 2010, was received by the German photographer Andy Spyra for his reportage on Kashmir. For the photographer, Kashmir has one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes; but the Himalayan region has also been a battlefield for decades. With his subjective and empathetic gaze, Spyra focuses his black and white series on the consequences of the conflict between India and Pakistan, for the people living there.

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Winner 2009: Mikhael Subotzky

Winner 2009: Mikhael Subotzky

Beaufort West is a town in South Africa with a population of 37 000. As a town, it has little to offer its residents: its chief attractions are the main road and its neighbouring municipal jail. This is amply documented in the images captured by Mikhael Subotzky. The series earned the South African photographer the LOBA in 2009.

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Winner Award Newcomer 2009: Dominic Nahr

Winner Award Newcomer 2009: Dominic Nahr

These are photographs fighting against oblivion. The very first Newcomer Award series, which was presented in 2009, is a ruthless documentation, which deals with one of Africa’s most brutal conflicts. Dominic Nahr focused his series on the dramatic situation of refugees in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

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Winner 2008: Lucia Nimcova

Winner 2008: Lucia Nimcova

The images of the winning series in 2008 were taken in Slovakia. Taking her home-town as an example, Lucia Nimcova documents how time seems to have stood still since the fall of the Communist regime. Even years later, people and places do not seem to have changed at all, almost as if time had passed them by unnoticed and without a trace.

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Winner 2007: Julio Bittencourt

Winner 2007: Julio Bittencourt

A window into life: Julio Bittencourt documented living conditions in a dilapidated block of flats in his home town of São Paulo, offering us profound glimpses into an overcrowded neighbourhood. These rather poetic insights tell a story of poverty and suffering, but also of the dignity of life. In 2007 he received the Leica Oskar Barnack Award for his series, In a window of Prestes Maia 911 building.

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Winner 2006: Tomás Munita

Winner 2006: Tomás Munita

For nine months, the Chilean photographer Tomás Munita travelled around war-stricken Afghanistan, made possible thanks to a long-term assignment for The Associated Press. Munita’s photo reportage takes a penetrating look at a country on the verge of a new beginning.

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Winner 2005: Guy Tillim

Winner 2005: Guy Tillim

The South African photographer Guy Tillim won the 2005 Leica Oskar Barnack Award with his photo reportage “Jo’burg Story”. His series documents the transformation of the town from an urban enclave of the white minority to an “African town”, as the photographer puts it. Tillim was the first photographer on the African continent to receive the Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

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Winner 2004: Peter Granser

Winner 2004: Peter Granser

A place in upheaval, a myth long forgotten: the 2004 LOBA winning series captures the once legendary and now greatly diminished amusement centre, in mix of banal cheerfulness and distressing nothingness.

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Winner 2003: Andrea Hoyer

Winner 2003: Andrea Hoyer

In 2003, for the first time in its history, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award went to a German photographer. Andrea Hoyer’s photo reportage, a long-term project launched in 1998, documents the longings, perspectives and moods of the Russian population of the post-Soviet era, in sensitively composed black and white photographs.

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Winner 2002: Narelle Autio

Winner 2002: Narelle Autio

Saturated colours, intense light, happy people, blue seas, clouds: the Australian photographer won the 2002 LOBA for her lively picture series dedicated to beach life. Her complex compositions represent a great homage to the beauty of the Australian coastal landscape and convinced the jury, with their content and form, that the series best captured the competition’s theme of humanity’s relationship with the environment.

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Winner 2001: Bertrand Meunier

Winner 2001: Bertrand Meunier

China in upheaval: Delahaye’s powerful series “Erased”, presents the consequences of economic change for its people, and earned him the 2001 Leica Oskar Barnack Award. With strong motifs in black and white, the French photographer speaks of the end of China’s great industrial cities, while placing the harsh realities of life for the workers at the heart of the project.

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Winner 2000: Luc Delahaye

Winner 2000: Luc Delahaye

The award-winning series for the year 2000 takes us on a journey through Russia in the depths of winter. Delahaye reveals the troubles and miseries of the russian population during the changes gripping post-communist Russia. The unusually intense chromaticity underlines the intimate ruthlessness of the series.

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Winner 1999: Claudine Doury

Winner 1999: Claudine Doury

In order to complete the series for which she received the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, the French photographer went on many journeys. She travelled extensively from the Amur River on the Russian-Chinese border to the far northern reaches above the Arctic Circle. Her mission was to photograph the last of the nomadic peoples living there. She dealt deeply with the traditions of the inhabitants of this Siberian region, while simultaneously delivering a fascinating picture of the land’s endless expanses.

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Winner 1998: Fabio Ponzio

Winner 1998: Fabio Ponzio

The East: a vast and mysterious region that was yet to be explored. For a period of twenty years, the Italian photographer took his camera on a journey of over 250,000 kilometres, travelling through strange lands and different political systems. In 1998, his work earned him the Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

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Winner 1997: Jane Evelyn Atwood

Winner 1997: Jane Evelyn Atwood

Jane Evelyn Atwood won the 1997 Leica Oskar Barnack Award for her provocative, long-term project about prisons for women and female inmates. The award presentation took place during the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, and came with prize money amounting to 10,000 German marks. This support contributed significantly to enabling the photographer to continue with the series and publish the work a few years later.

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Winner 1996: Larry Towell

Winner 1996: Larry Towell

They emerged from the Baptist movement and follow strict rituals, living pretty much cut off from the rest of society. In the early nineties, thousands of Mennonites lived in Mexico; however, the tough challenges of the economy there obliged many of the men to head back to the USA and Canada as seasonal workers. That was where Larry Towell met them.

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Winner 1995: Gianni Berengo Gardin

Winner 1995: Gianni Berengo Gardin

With his series dedicated to the daily lives of Roma families in Florence, the Italian photographer was able to convince the jury and win the 1995 Leica Oskar Barnack Award. Gianni Berengo Gardin was presented with the award at the antique theatre of Arles, during the 15th LOBA award ceremony. For the first time, the LOBA ceremony took place within the context of the Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, France, on the evening of July 9th.

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Winner 1993: Eugene Richards

Winner 1993: Eugene Richards

As it develops irrigation projects in an attempt to green the edges of the desert, the Nigerian government is managing to dry out the last of the country’s wetlands. U.S. American photographer Eugene Richards and environmental author Fred Pearce travelled together, for the magazine Audubon, to an oasis that seems doomed to die.

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Winner 1992: Sebastião Salgado

Winner 1992: Sebastião Salgado

Nearly thirty years ago, the desert in Kuwait was burning: in February 1991, during the Second Gulf War, troops belonging to the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, set the Kuwaiti oil fields on fire, before making their retreat. Sebastião Salgado travelled to the disaster area and photographed the ghostly inferno. The following year, the pictures – first published in the New York Times Magazine – earned the Brazilian photographer his second Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

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Winner 1991: Barry Lewis

Winner 1991: Barry Lewis

Polluted by two industrial complexes, the town has long had the reputation of being the dirtiest in Europe. When the British photographer documented the small Romanian town of Copșa Mică, during a number of visits, he not only captured pictures of the contamination of the region, but also revealed a country in a state of shock, caught between dictatorship and political upheaval. Lewis’s work received international attention at the time.

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Winner 1990: Raphaël Gaillarde

Winner 1990: Raphaël Gaillarde

For the tenth edition of the Leica Oskar Barnack Awards in 1990, the jury selected an unusual series dedicated to a project being carried out in the Amazon rainforest. At lofty heights, the French photographer Raphaël Gaillarde documented an extraordinary research operation taking place in the treetops.

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Winner 1989: Charles Mason

Winner 1989: Charles Mason

The rescue of three grey whales, in October, 1988, was a worldwide media sensation. Charles Mason spent eleven days close to the event, documenting the efforts being made to free the whales from the ice. His photographs, taken under extremely tough conditions, were published around the world and earned him the 1989 Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

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Winner 1988: Christopher Steele-Perkins

Winner 1988: Christopher Steele-Perkins

20 years after the biggest scandal of the pharmaceutical industry was uncovered, Christopher Steele-Perkins photographed some of the people who have to live with the consequences of that medical catastrophe. His series earned him the 1988 Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

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Winner 1987: Jeff Share

Winner 1987: Jeff Share

For his committed reportage on the Peace March that crossed the USA for close to nine months in 1986, the US American photojournalist Jeff Share became the eighth winner in the history of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award. He accompanied the march, up close and personal, for months. He was able to document the activists as they walked, their moods, and the conditions around them.

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Winner 1986: David C. Turnley

Winner 1986: David C. Turnley

He considers himself a humanist behind the camera: for twelve years, between 1985 and 1997, David C. Turnley captured life in South Africa, during and after Apartheid. His haunting images sent out an appeal around the world.

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Winner 1985: Sebastião Salgado

Winner 1985: Sebastião Salgado

His socio-documentary images of famine in Ethiopia had a great impact on the awareness of industrialised nations. They are both art and explanation at the same time. Sebastião Salgado was honoured with the LOBA in 1985 for this emotional and stirring series.

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Winner 1984: Stormi Greener

Winner 1984: Stormi Greener

This award-winning series has only one protagonist: the 106-year-old Hattie Vaughn. With sensitive photographs, Stormi Greener – who was 37 at the time – captured the daily life of the centenarian at the old people’s home where she lived. The photojournalist’s black and white series convinced the Leica Oskar Barnack Award jury and, in 1984, Greener became the 5th recipient of the award.

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Winner 1983: Neil McGahee

Winner 1983: Neil McGahee

The American photographer’s winning series tells the story of two elderly farmers, struggling to preserve their way of life, in the middle of the State of Minnesota. In 1983 Neil McGahee’s touching photo series was honoured with the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, which was being granted for the fourth time.

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Winner 1982: Wendy Watriss

Winner 1982: Wendy Watriss

The photographer’s unflinching black and white pictures revealed the ruthless and devastating consequences to U.S. veterans, following the weaponised use of the herbicide called Agent Orange, during the Vietnam War. With her empathic portraits of participants in the war and their families, Wendy Watriss impressed the jury of the World Press Photo Awards at the time, and she was also the recipient, in 1982, of the third Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

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Winner 1981: Björn H. Larsson Ask

Winner 1981: Björn H. Larsson Ask

The skin transplant operation lasted for three full days, after the eight-year-old Jessica fell victim to a fire in her apartment block. The Swedish photographer Björn H. Larsson Ask captured the operation and healing process with a moving intensity. In 1981, the series earned him the Leica Oskar Barnack Award.

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Winner 1980: Floris Bergkamp

Winner 1980: Floris Bergkamp

In 1980, the Leica Oskar Barnack Award was presented for the first time, as a special award within the framework of the international World Press Photo competition in Amsterdam. The jury decided on the breathtaking black and white motifs that Dutch photographer Floris Bergkamp captured, under life-threatening conditions, during a Greenpeace intervention.

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