The winners of the 2023 Contemporary African Photography Prize have been announced. The winners are Nadia Ettwein, Carlos Idun-Tawiah, Léonard Pongo, Yasmin Forte, and Maheder Haileselassie.
Selected by a panel of 20 international judges, the other shortlisted projects for the 2023 Contemporary African Photography Prize include works by Robin Bernstein, Bright Charles, Kwasi Darko, Yagazie Emezi, Jonathan Jasberg, Bontle Juku, Issam Larkat, Mohamed Mahdy, Alisa Martynova, Merji, Obakeng Molepe, Kriss Munsya, Neec Nonso, Emeke Obanor, Lamees Saleh, Antonia Steyn, Jono Terry, Geremew Tigabu, Elliott Verdier, and Kyle Weeks.
Born in 1984 in Port Shepstone, South Africa. Lives in Cape Town, South Africa.
“My work relates to dissociating from painful memories, trauma, rejection, and my current experiences. You find yourself in a situation of instability and displacement of post-apartheid, religion, and child welfare, trying to grow up as a solid human in-between the neglect. There are beginnings and endings, balance and imbalance, and the betweenness which forms a collective memory.”
Yassmin Forte (This is a story about my family, 2022)
Born in 1980 in Quelimane, Mozambique. Lives in Maputo, Mozambique.
“My images attempt to dissect and navigate the effects of colonialism and migration from my family’s history. It addresses three aspects, family, migration and the story of Africans, using family archives and my images. I attempt to investigate how Africans have become the result of mixtures, migrations and colonisation, histories mixed and patterns repeated, and in this way, unpack my own African identity.”
Maheder Haileselassie (Between Yesterday and Tomorrow, 2023)
Born in 1990 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Lives in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“I read Ethiopia’s history as a child in my father’s books that he left before his passing. Ethiopian society prides itself on having 3000 years of history and defeating colonisation. Remembering is in our cultural DNA. We stand at an intersection, yearning for the past and longing for the future with profound uncertainty. I superimposed 19th-century archives made by Europeans with images from my current work and family albums. This acts as a metaphor for the overlapping of time and space in one’s memory, speaking to our nostalgia while acknowledging the involvement of the Western world in our history.”
Carlos Idun-Tawiah (Sunday Special, 2022)
Born in 1997 in Sekondi-Takoradi, Ghana. Lives in Accra, Ghana.
“I photographed this series as a requiem of my memories. I was inspired by a close study of the family album and my recollection of growing up in a Christian home. I highlighted the ethos of Sundays from a much more vernacular perspective. I played with visual nostalgia, juxtapositions, colour and gesture to fully extract the roundedness of the traditions of what Sundays typically felt like in Ghana. Also, being conscious of blurring the lines between sanctity and our humanity and underscoring how community and divinity could exist in one place. My joy is to watch everyone who sees this go back in time. Inciting that delight that can only be found when we look back. Provoking the sweet joys of what our memories could best serve us.”
Léonard Pongo (Primordial Earth)
Born in 1988 in Liège, Belgium. Lives in Kinshasa, Congo DR
“Primordial Earth is an experimental documentary project that relies on technical inaccuracies to translate the idea that vision is limited and man is biased. Inspired by Kasaï traditions (southern DRC) that where parts of reality exist outside of human’s limited reach, the project uses “Full Spectrum” cameras to create images “touched by the invisible” and impacted by wavelengths invisible to humans. By photographing the landscape of the Democratic Republic of Congo and focusing on the places, objects and shapes mentioned in Congolese traditions, the project recreates a visual narrative connected to the country’s traditional tales and stories and which is based on a physical experience of the landscape.”