A series of portraits documenting the daily routines of life in lockdown have won one of the world’s most prestigious photography awards.
The National Portrait Gallery has named French photographer Clementine Schneidermann the winner of its 2022 prize Taylor Wesing Portrait Photography Award For her series “Laundry Day”. The photographer, who lives and works between Paris and South Wales, earns £15,000.
Pictures on Laundry Day show Schneiderman’s neighbors hanging laundry in the garden of their South Wales home. The socially distancing works are part of a series of photos taken during times of quarantine, self-isolation and national lockdowns in the UK.
“These images are in response to a quiet time when it was very difficult to approach strangers,” Schneiderman said. They talk about the duality between stagnation and the passage of time. My neighbor’s garden became a little fantasy stage where she documented from my window little moments of her life.”
The artist said she was inspired by often overlooked home spaces and chores and the ability of photography to create a “poetic narrative” from these small moments. “Photographs such as Stephen Gill and Paul Cabots or Nigel Shafran have been the inspiration for how beautifully they depict the nature of our current landscapes as well as places not around us,” she said.
Schneiderman also spoke about the importance of being shortlisted for the Portrait Prize “in a time when selfies and faces are all around us. By hiding my face, I’m showing what’s hidden and not visible—old people are often invisible in our society, so I’m glad that these The pictures are getting some attention.”
The judges simply praised Schneiderman’s project and said the images evoked a strong sense of stillness and calm, as well as a sense of loneliness and isolation – despite the photographer’s closeness. They praised the unusual perspective of the portraits, which were close but not close enough to see the sitter’s face – which they felt was “an interesting play with traditional portraiture lore”.
The second prize of £3,000 went to South African poet and visual activist Hanim Christian for their entries Mother, Daughter and Roots. Christian’s photography explores anomalies and transience in relation to family, race, and identity.
Portraying mother and daughter Cheshire Vineyard and Autumn May, both trans women artists from Cape Town, Rooted depicts a character in a jungle setting, honoring “the journey back to self by seeing yourself through the eyes of your loved one”.
The third prize of £2,000 went to Alexander Komenda, a Polish-Canadian documentary photographer and artist, for his work Ibn Zahid, which examines the post-imperial identity and landscape of the Ferghana Valley, which spreads across Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
The three winners were selected from 4,462 entries submitted by 1,697 photographers from 62 countries. A total of 51 photographs from 36 artists were also selected to display from October 27 through December 18 at Cromwell Place in South Kensington, where the regular building of the National Portrait Gallery is being redeveloped in St Martin’s Square.
Headed by Dr. Nicholas Cullinan, Director of the National Photo Gallery, this year’s judging panel included Christina Lamb, Senior Foreign Correspondent for The Sunday Times, photographer Sian Davy, and Scheuer Mavlian, Director of Photoworks.