The Conscientious Portfolio Competition has become an important part of this site. With the help of two external judges, three (or occasionally four) emerging photographers are chosen as winners. This year, Melissa Catanese and Stanley Wolukau-Wanambwa very kindly agreed to make their selection from the shortlist.
The competition is free to enter. I don’t believe in “pay to play.” Everybody needs to have the same fair chance. That is also why the eventual winners are selected blindly, mimicking blind auditions: the judges get a set of photographs (and nothing else), with the names of the artists encrypted. I hope that this is a good way to at least attempt some of the problems plaguing contemporary photography. Including this year’s winners, there have now been 12 female and 11 male winners in seven years.
“I chose this work for its open-ended narrative. Time feels as though it’s stuck somewhere between the past and present. The sequence is thoughtful and the implied metaphors left me curious as to what may have happened within this constructed world. The sequence quietly begins with an entrance through the dark shrubs at night. The first character feels as though he’s a ghost from the past, juxtaposed by a discarded bottle on the ground. Condensation shines in the bottle and makes me think of the exoskeleton of a cockroach, recollecting Kafka’s well-known novella, The Metamorphosis. The viewer is led through both a stark interior world, and a minimally framed natural world – the base of a cliff with a shallow, yet ominous cave; the rotting trunk of a tree read from the cockroaches perspective; and finally ending abruptly at a corrugated metal fence where the flash bounces you backwards to the beginning again.”
“From all the portfolios of the various finalists, their work left me most curious to see more as it develops. Their selections were pleasingly distinctive and playful, often quite unabashedly bravura and full of enthusiasm, but also subtle in thoughtful ways.”
“I might know a lot more about the background of David’s project than most people, given in a previous career I was an astrophysicist. Ordinarily, artists working around the sciences are at a disadvantage with me, given that their work rarely operates beyond simplistic and often half-wrong ideas. That’s not the case here, though. Instead of alluding to the universe’s mysteries, we are instead presented with the folly that science really is: a somewhat obscure endeavour, run by highly trained individuals who usually are as flawed and weird as the rest of us — not quite the geniuses popular-science TV programs love showing us at all.”
Many thanks again to Melissa and Stanley, and to all those who submitted their work. Congratulations to the winners!