Chaired by German photographer Han Georg Berger, the international jury gathered at MUSEC has chosen the four winners of the UP21 prize. It is promoted by MUSEC and the Fondazione culture e musei, in collaboration with 29 ARTS IN PROGRESS Gallery in Milan. More than 160 applications were received this year, with a clear predominance of Asian artists. After an initial selection process that identified 17 finalists, the jury unanimously decided to award the prize to four photographers whose works will be exhibited at MUSEC in Lugano from 23 September 2021 to 27 February 2022.
The winners ex aequo of the 1st prize, consisting of a grant of 5,000 Swiss francs, are the Vietnamese photographer Khanh Bui Phu and the young Syrian photographer Mouneb Taim. Third place, also ex aequo, went to Indian photographer Avinash Mishra and Chinese photographer Li Zhang.
A special prize, awarded by Artphilein Editions of Lugano, which consists of the publication of a prestigious volume, went to Vietnamese photographer Khanh Bui Phu. The jury also gave a special mention to the two Bangladeshi photographers Ahmed Rayhan and Shifat Shifatunnabi.
The winners' projects
Khanh Bui Phu (b. 1987) presented his project "Make a nomadic living on the water ecosystem". With great poetic intensity and skillful use of colour contrast, it depicts the life of nomadic fishermen on Tuyen Lam Lake in Lam Dong Province, Vietnam. The fishermen of Khanh Bui Phu cannot keep up with the modern lifestyle, environmental pollution, deforestation and erosion of natural ecosystems that threaten their livelihoods. The jury also noted a strong narrative charge and a language that undoubtedly corresponds very closely to the modern literature of his country.
Mouneb Taim (b. 2001) from Syria submitted his project “War Notes”. It is an impressive document of daily life during the recent war that has bloodied Syria. The project is charged with a lyrical message and the young photographer expresses feeling part of a wounded culture. His photos have a profound note of hope that eventually prevails amidst the destruction.
Of great interest is the reportage "The Colors Empire" by Indian photographer Avinash Mishra (b. 1999) taken during the famous "colour ceremony" in Mathura. With a language strongly oriented towards the rendering of moving masses, the artist, through the choice of black and white photography, transforms the substance of chromatic contrasts into a vivid representation of humanity and the religious sense of life.
With the project "When I was a Child", Li Zhang (b. 1991) conducts an introspective investigation into his childhood by reworking old pictures taken by his grandfather using a scanner and camera. In this way, with a language tinged with subtle poetry, and thanks to an innovative technique, he increases the value and expressive capacity of an intimate generational connection, building a visual and stylistic bridge between the 1990s and our time.
The photogallery shows two photographs for each of the winning photographers, in the order of presentation.