Dana Lixenberg wins Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2017

GRIMM congratulates Dana Lixenberg on winning the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize for her series Imperial Courts.

The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is awarded annually to a living artist of any nationality who has made the most significant contribution, either through an exhibition or publication, to the photography in Europe in the previous year. Other nominees for this year’s prize were Sophie Calle, Awoiska van der Molen, and Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs.

Dana Lixenberg’s Imperial Courts project (1993—2015) tracks the changing shape of a small, inner-city community from South Central Los Angeles through a combination of beautiful black and white photographs, and a series of videos made in the final years of the work. These photographs and videos result from Lixenberg’s familiarity with the neighborhood and community of Imperial Courts, and from her extended and collaborative relationship with its residents.

The project comprises 393 black and white pho­tographs, compiled in a monograph published by ROMA Publications in 2015, and a 69 minute 3-channel video projection. These cumulatively mark the generational passing of time as sons become grandfathers, daugh­ters become mothers, and parents, neighbours and friends pass silently into the grave. Imperial Courts is a work that frames the continuity of community against the changelessness of an inner-city landscape—each of which we discover through Lixenberg’s tender, elegant and visceral work.

In 1992, Lixenberg travelled to South Central Los Angeles to photograph a magazine story on the riots that erupted following the acquittal of four LAPD officers filmed mercilessly beating Rodney King. What Lixenberg encountered there inspired her to revisit that part of the city, and eventually led her to the Imperial Courts housing project in Watts.

Beginning in 1993, and continuing until the spring of 2015, Lixenberg gradu­ally created an extensive portrait of this community over twenty-two years, electing to face away from the spectacle of destruction, and to look toward those whose lives typically receive public notice only in the event of calamity. Her portraiture addresses the individuated characteristics of the residents with delicacy and specificity, reflecting a series of individuals who collective­ly constitute an evolving community. In parallel with her black and white pho­tographs, Lixenberg created a series of short videos within Imperial Courts beginning in 2012. These function as a series of vignettes that skip across three channels, adding color and continuity to the stillness of her black and white portraits.

The exhibition of The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize is on view at The Photographers’ Gallery in London until 11 June, and will travel to the MMK Museum Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main and Aperture, New York.

About the artist
Dana Lixenberg (b. 1964 Amsterdam, the Netherlands) studied photography at the London College of Printing from 1984 to 1986 and at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam from 1987 until 1989. Her work has been exhibited at Aperture (New York), Busan Biennial (Busan, South Korea), Huis Marseille (Amsterdam), Kunsthal (Rotterdam), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Frans Halsmuseum De Hallen (Haarlem), Museum for Photography (The Hague), LACPS/Knowtribe (Los Angeles). In the spring of 2018 GRIMM will show a solo exhibition in our Amsterdam gallery at the Keizersgracht.