Photos of lockdown banality win £15,000 Taylor Wessing prize | Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Award

A series of portraits documenting the mundane, everyday tasks of life in lockdown have won one of the world’s most prestigious photography awards.

The National Portrait Gallery has named French photographer Clémentine Schneidermann the winner of the 2022 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize for her Laundry Day series. The photographer, who lives and works between Paris and South Wales, wins £15,000.

The Laundry Day portraits depict Schneidermann’s neighbors hanging out laundry in the garden of their home in South Wales. The socially distant works are part of a series of photographs taken during times of quarantine, self-isolation and national lockdown in the UK.

“These images are a response to a quiet time when approaching strangers was very difficult,” Schneidermann said. “They talk about the duality between stagnation and the passage of time. My neighbour’s garden has become a tiny imaginary stage where from my window I have documented little moments of her life.

Clémentine Schneidermann’s laundry day #3. Photography: 1photography/Clementine Schneidermann

The artist said she was inspired by often overlooked domestic spaces and chores and photography’s ability to create a “poetic narrative” from these small moments. “Photographers such as Stephen Gill, Paul Cabuts or Nigel Shafran have been an inspiration in the way they have beautifully photographed the banality of our current landscapes as well as the non-places that surround us”, she said. declared.

Schneidermann also spoke of the importance of having his images shortlisted for a portrait award “in a time when selfies and faces are all around us. By hiding a face, I show the hidden rather than the visible – older people are also often invisible in our society, so I’m glad these images grab attention.

The judges praised the simplicity of Schneidermann’s project and said the images evoked a strong sense of stillness and calm, as well as loneliness and isolation, despite the photographer’s proximity. They praised the unusual perspective of the portraits, which are close but not close enough to see the sitter’s face – which they said “was an intriguing play with the conventions of traditional portraiture”.

Mother and Daughter by Haneem Christian.
Mother and Daughter by Haneem Christian. Photo: Haneem Christian

Second prize of £3,000 went to South African visual poet and activist Haneem Christian for his works Mother and Daughter and Rooted. Christian’s photography explores queerness and transness in relation to family, race and identity.

Mother and Daughter portrays Cheshire Vineyard and Autumn May, both of whom are trans-female artists from Cape Town, while Rooted depicts a figure in a woodland setting, honoring “the journey back to self by seeing oneself through the eyes of a to be expensive”. .

Third prize of £2,000 went to Polish-Canadian documentary photographer and artist Alexander Komenda for his work Zahid’s Son, which examines the identity and post-imperialist landscape of the Fergana Valley, which stretches across Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

The three winners were chosen from 4,462 submissions submitted by 1,697 photographers from 62 countries. A total of 51 portraits by 36 artists have also been selected for display from October 27 to December 18 at Cromwell Place in South Kensington, as the National Portrait Gallery’s usual building in St Martin’s Place is being redeveloped.

Chaired by Dr Nicholas Cullinan, director of the National Portrait Gallery, this year’s jury included Christina Lamb, chief foreign correspondent of The Sunday Times, photographer Siân Davey and Shoair Mavlian, director of Photoworks.

Michael E. Marquez