The winner of the 2015 Oskar Barnack Award and Newcomers Award have been announced on the Leica site. I have not formed an opinion yet, but it is clear that the Barnack Award has changed a great deal over the last four or five years. It used to be the preserve of reportage and documentary, but has become increasingly conceptual (and dare I say it, mainstream?).
OK, in writing this I perhaps have formed an opinion: I won’t complain about the (winner’s) “visual poetry” or that “Engström plays with contrasts and leaves it to viewers to find their own ways of reading and interpreting each picture” only that it feels (as is increasingly the norm) like a disjointed intellectual exercise where only a couple of the images are remotely compelling in their own right (1,2,8 & maybe 12?). With it being open to our interpretation and in light of the disjointed and average imagery (and lack of binding narrative, visual or written) I can’t help but ask a question: ‘what’s the point?‘. I recognise that there is no ‘point’ to art as such, but would follow that up with the simplest form of ‘point’: to create a reaction in the viewer. Unfortunately, this one just leaves me feeling absolutely nothing whatsoever. The Newcomer Winner’s work leaves me dumbfounded. Great as an A-Level Photography piece and as blog wallpaper, but is this really the most compelling newcomer submission from across the globe? Don’t get me wrong: I am thrilled for the winners of this prestigious award, but I am asking ‘are these the right images to win this award?‘
Am I being unreasonable? Have I lost the plot entirely? What do you think?