Paris Photo: BMW Prize

A major area at the very centre of Paris Photo is devoted not to photography but a car showroom.  As someone who was a friend of the earth before the Earth officially had Friends (and who got rid of his first and last car in 1966) I find it inappropriate and distasteful, even more so this year since it it’s a make very much associated with bankers, whose bad book-keeping has certainly not put them into my good books of late. If I wanted to worship the motor car I’d go to a car show.

The centrepiece of the show – not photography

BMW are the sponsors of the BMW-Paris Photo Prize, a contest that has always turned up some rather odd entrants and chosen peculiar winners. The entrants are nominated by the galleries taking part in the show, which accounts for some fairly unlikely submissions.

Shortlisted work for the prize displayed on the upper level

Perhaps the most unlikely this year was the winner, Yao Lu’s New landscape part I – Ancient Spring Time Fey, 2006. Yao Lu was nominated by the 798 Photo Gallery, Beijing. He photographs mounds of garbage covered by green nets and digitally manipulates them to resemble traditional Chinese paintings.  It’s more bad Photoshop than photography as I know it, though, as the pdf file says “speaks of the radical mutations affecting nature in China as
is it subjected to rampant urbanization and the ecological threats that endanger the
.” But I still think its a shame that a jury that included one photographer and one curator I admire couldn’t pick something more photographic.

Looking at the winning entry

I took some time going round the works shortlisted for the prize that were on show in Paris, and picked my own top five (not in order): Janne Lehtinen from Finland, Yuki Tawada, Ken Kitano (click on the pictures to see them larger) and Nobuhiro Fukui from Japan and Atta Kim from South Korea.

But this, as I’ve mentioned previously, is the year of China, thanks to the Beijing Olympics, so perhaps Yao Lu’s victory should not have come as a surprise.

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