Bieke Depoorter DBPF Prize Show Opens

The Magnum photographer is recognized for her exhibition at C/O Berlin, A Chance Encounter.

Bieke Depoorter’s work has gone on display today (March 3) at The Photographers’ Gallery in London, where she is showing as one of four shortlisted artists for this year’s Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize.

Organized by the Gallery since 1996, and now one the world’s leading award devoted to contemporary photography, the Prize is worth £30,000 to the winner judged to have made “the most significant contribution to photography over the previous 12 months.”

The 36-year-old Belgian photographer is recognized for her exhibition, A Chance Encounter, at C/O Berlin last year (April 30 to September 7). It was shown alongside a retrospective of the work of fellow Magnum member Susan Meiselas, who won the Prize in 2019.

Samuel Fosso, Arthur Jafa and Frida Orupabo are also nominated for the annual award, organized by The Photographers’ Gallery since 1996, set up 26 years ago to reward the “artists and their projects considered to have made the most significant contribution to photography over the previous 12 months.”

Previous winners of the award include Andreas Gursky (1997), Rineke Dijkstra (1998), Boris Mikhailov (2001), and Magnum photographers Jim Goldberg (2011), Mikhael Subotzky (working with Patrick Waterhouse in 2015) and Susan Meiselas (2019).

Michael at Home, Portland, Oregon, USA, May 2015 © Bieke Depoorter/Magnum Photos

"She questions the role and responsibilities of the photographer."


An introductory statement about Depoorter’s work reads:

“Bieke Depoorter blurs the traditional relationship between photographer and subject. She questions the role and responsibilities of the photographer, the possibility or impossibility of truth in representation and grapples with personal and professional boundaries. Her nominated project presents two unfolding, ongoing, bodies of work, Michael and Agata. In both, a chance encounter develops into an enduring personal relationship and, thereafter, into an interrogation of the medium. A selection of work from the Michael project will be on display at The Photographers’ Gallery.

“In Michael, Depoorter examines the life and the disappearance of a man she met on the streets of Portland, Oregon in 2015. Gifted three suitcases of Michael’s personal items, sketchbooks and essays, his subsequent disappearance turns Depoorter detective. Depoorter’s work documents her immersive, perhaps obsessive, quest to find Michael and to understand his life. In Agata, a first meeting in a Parisian strip-club in 2017 evolves with complex tension into an intricate, changing narrative. The project explores questions of collaboration, the limits of a creative friendship, performance, boundaries and authorship.”

Self-Portrait (Tommie Smith), from the series 'African Spirits,' 2008 © Samuel Fosso, courtesy JM Patras, Paris.

Fosso is shortlisted for his retrospective shown at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris. Jafa is recognized for Live Evil, exhibited at Luma, Arles. And Orupabo is shortlisted for her exhibition, I have seen a million pictures of my face and still I have no idea, which was shown at Fotomuseum Winterthur in Switzerland.

Ex-Slave Gordon, 1863, 2017 © Arthur Jafa. Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery. Installation image by Andrea Rossetti
-scaled.jpg Batwoman, 2021 © Frida Orupabo, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin, Stockholm, Mexico City.
A lil help, 2021 © Frida Orupabo, courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin, Stockholm, Mexico City.

The exhibition of shortlisted projects is on show at The Photographers’ Gallery until June 11. The winner of the £30,000 prize will be announced at an award ceremony at the gallery on May 11. The other finalists will each receive £5000.

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