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This Tuesday, the Museu Agbar de les Aigües de Barcelona hosted the prize-giving ceremony for the first edition of the FC Barcelona Photo Awards. The winners were Craig Easton, in the Photo Awards category, and Cristina de Middel, in the Project Awards category.
At the same time, an exhibition was inaugurated featuring the winning work by the Scottish photographer, Spanish artist Cristina de Middel’s preliminary project and the work of all 29 finalists. It will be open to the public from this Wednesday 21 June until July 21. During 2018, once Cristina de Middel’s project is finished, the exhibition will be housed at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC).
The ceremony was attended by Josep Maria Bartomeu, President of FC Barcelona; and Carles Vilarrubí, Vice President of FC Barcelona and responsible for the Area of Institutional and International Relations; along with Ángel Simón, President of Agbar; and Mario Rotllant, President of the Fundació Foto Colectania. FC Barcelona Board of Directors members Jordi Moix, Maria Teixidor, Oriol Tomàs and Xavier Vilajoana; and Òscar Grau, Executive Director of the Club, were also in attendance. The much-anticipated event saw over 150 guests attend.
The idea of the FCBarcelona Photo Awards, sponsored by Agbar and in partnership with the Fundació Foto Colectania, is to identify work that consciously reflects the intrinsically positive values of sport. The competition aims to recognise these values through the lens of contemporary photography.
An emphasis on these positive values shared by both sport and culture through FC Barcelona’s photography prize helps to create a global photographic digital platform to transmit the importance of these universal values to contemporary society. It also supports the photography sector and creates a favourable environment for the development of high quality projects.
There were two categories:
Aimed at photographers with a background in media, agencies or from the art world, the prize sought the photography that best expressed the positive values of sport. The prize was €40,000 and the 29 finalists received €1,000 each.
The jury for this category included: Vicente Todolí, ex-Director of the Tate Modern London and Artistic Director of the Hangar Bicocca de Milà; Azu Nwagbogu, founder and Director of the African Artists’ Foundation (AFF); and Sandra Phillips, ex-senior curator at MOMA in San Francisco.
Craig Easton won this category with a photo of Arhisa, a 16-year-old Iranian asylum seeker who lives in Liverpool. He is trying to integrate into his new environment as a teenager by continuing his studies, learning English and playing for Kingsley United in Toxteth, known as “the most diverse” team in Liverpool. Arshia explains his story in his native language, Farsi, alongside his portrait. The jury “admire the sensibility of the photo and its relevance to the migration issues in contemporary society as well as the additional creativity of focusing on an autobiographical account in an unconventional manner.”
The category focuses on photographers with a background in media, agencies and the art world as well as experience in the development of projects. It honours photography projects that best express the intrinsic value of sport and its contribution to contemporary society. The prize was €40,000 to develop the project that will be exhibited in the second edition of the competition.
The jury included: Ayperi Karabuda Ecer, ex-Vice President of photography for Reuters; Christopher Anderson, member of Magnum Photos and winner of the Robert Capa Gold Medal; and Stephen Mayes, who has over 25 years of experience managing projects and artists from different sectors.
Cristina de Middel, from Alicante, was awarded the prize in this category for the work Variations of the Podium. The artist has proposed a project through twenty photos which explore the idea, the shape, the connotations and the history of the podium to reflect on the paradox of sport, where the balance between self-improvement and professional competition is crucial. The podium is, perhaps, one of the symbols which best represents the contradictions of sport and this project aims to question them.
De Middel will develop her project until December 2017 and she will have the support of the President of the Project Awards jury, Ayperi Karabuda Ecer, as an editor. The jury thought “her project converts one of the universal symbols of sport into a lively creative process.”
Statement by Josep Maria Bartomeu, President of FC Barcelona:
“If you are asking why Barça, a sports club, has promoted a photography prize you will find the answer in the images themselves. The reason is the same as the one which explains why our Club thinks in way that no other sporting entity in the world does. The fact we consider ourselves to be ‘more than a club’ is intrinsically linked to our commitment to society, culture, our city, and our country.”
“Our ambition is to transform the world through sporting excellence. Our starting point is the positive values of sport, universal values shared by people regardless of their origin culture or religion. Its contribution to society is what encourages us to create initiatives to build bridges and knock down boundaries.”
“We know it is an ambitious project but we believe in excellence and want to create new standards in photography competitions around the world. FC Barcelona is the only Club that believes in big and global challenges and the FCBarcelona Photo Awards are a good example of this.”
Statements from Carles Vilarrubí, Vice President of FC Barcelona
The FCBarcelona Photo Awards come from the 2010 initiative ‘Barça Cultura’ which was created to help promote cultural projects for society by using our club’s voice and media presence.”
“In order to organise a unique and innovative photography competition linked to the worlds of sport and art dedicated to the values of sport we needed the best photographers and a renowned international jury, who I would like to thank for their contribution. This is the result, an extraordinary exhibition of the winning photography by Craig Easton and the 29 finalists. From January onwards, Cristina de Middel’s Project Award will be added as it is currently still in development.”
“Photography is one of the most democratic and global forms of art around at the moment and the FC Barcelona Photo Awards seek to recognise art in its most contemporary and artistic form. For this reason, the competition is open to new possibilities in the future and we are already working on a second edition.”
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