Allendale, NJ—The winners of Leica Camera’s 37th Annual Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA) were announced. In the international photography competition’s main category, Norwegian photographer Terje Abusdal won for his project Slash & Burn.
In addition, Sergey Melnitchenko, from the Ukraine, earned the Newcomer Award. This award is reserved for up-and-coming professional photographers who are age 25 or younger.
By winning this competition, both Abusdal and Melnitchenko will gain significant resources to continue their work.
“I would like to congratulate Terje Abusdal and Sergey Melnitchenko, the winners of this year’s Leica Oskar Barnack Awards, on behalf of the whole jury,” said Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, art director and chief representative of Leica Galleries International.
“Both photographers have shown they have a truly special eye for seeing and portraying the interaction of people and their environments. They have surpassed a total of 2,700 competitors from 104 countries and have won over all members of the jury with their impressive portfolios.”
The winners will receive their prizes at a gala event in Berlin, Germany, on September 13, 2017. Terje Abusdal will be honored with a cash prize of approximately $30,000 as well as Leica M-system equipment. The camera and lens are valued at an additional $12,000.
Sergey Melnitchenko will be honored with a cash prize of roughly $12,000. He will also be presented with a Leica rangefinder camera and lens.
Leica Oskar Barnack Winning Portfolio
Terje Abusdal’s mysterious and expressive photography in Slash & Burn captures the story of the Forest Finns. The Norwegian ethnic minority group leads a life in close touch with nature. Abusdal’s work began as a thesis project at the Danish School of Journalism and evolved into his award-winning portfolio. During three-years of research, Abusdal delved deeper and deeper into the lifestyle of the Forest Finns: one that balances tradition and mysticism, ethnic origins and clan culture, facts as well as fiction.
Abusdal blurred the transitions between reality and fiction to an ever-increasing degree. “I added certain historical elements of the Forest Finns to the story, such as fire, smoke, shamanism,” explains Abusdal. “Each of these elements is more than just their
physical existence. They also explain who the Forest Finns are as a people.”
As a result, documentation and imagination are interwoven in his pictures in an organic way.
“His photographs radiate a suggestive power and unique spiritualism—the consequences of a deliberate attempt to create a fictional universe, a magical world,” added Rehn-Kaufmann.
Leica Oskar Barnack Winning Newcomer Portfolio
Sergey Melnitchenko won the Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award with his portfolio titled Behind the Scenes. It is an extremely realistic and, in literal terms, unwashed portrayal of his subjects.
The Ukrainian photographer’s in-your-face proximity to dancers in a Chinese club show that everything in his work is hard reality. “It’s about real life: our lives together as well as my life and experience,” said Melnitchenko.
According to the judges, the cinematic imagery of Melnitchenko’s portfolio has nothing to do with life in the spotlight. Instead, it tells stories of everyday life behind the scenes, with all the rough edges of show business. His portfolio, “reveals much more than many would like to see: bruised and battered legs, scratches and scars, feet raw from dancing, and laddered stockings in the light of makeup mirrors. To deliver such insights, Melnitchenko had to be a part of it all.”
Additional Leica Oskar Barnack Prizes
In addition to the two main categories, the work of the other 10 finalists in this year’s competition will be recognized with prizes of approximately $3,000. In addition, the works of all 12 finalists will be on view again from September 14 to October 15, 2017 in Berlin at the Neuen Schule für Fotografie.
Furthermore, the LOBA Catalogue 2017, which features the winners and finalists’ work in detail with comprehensive portfolios and interviews, will be published to accompany the exhibition.
The Leica Oskar Barnack Award
The Leica Oskar Barnack Award is one of the longest running, international photographic competitions. This year’s was the 37th rendition. The challenge to photographers entering the competition is to perceive as well as document the interaction between people and their environment in creative and groundbreaking style. leica-oskar-barnack-award.com/en/