Leica
Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2013

06/05/2013


The winners of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award and the Newcomer Award for 2013 have been chosen. Born in Siberia, Evgenia Arbugaeva has been awarded this prestigious photography prize for ‘Tiksi', a portfolio of her images from a project shot in the small town of the same name on the Arctic coast of northern Siberia. The international jury chose Ciril Jazbec from Slovenia as the winner of the 2013 Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award. His portfolio of images entitled ‘Waiting to move' tells the story of an Inuit village in Alaska facing the threat of global warming.

In her portfolio ‘Tiksi', Evgenia Arbugaeva takes a closer look at her birthplace and everyday life in the Arctic. Formerly an important military and scientific base at the heart of the Siberian tundra, the erstwhile importance of the port is no longer visible. With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the global crisis of the 1990s, the population of the town fell dramatically. Although relatively well supplied in the Soviet era, today the town's remaining residents face severe unemployment and grim perspectives. More and more people have left the town as a consequence of the increasingly failing standards of living. In an intensely emotive and poetic manner, the photographer infuses her images of the Arctic desolation and the icebound landscape and its residents with a particularly fascinating beauty. She presents scenes of everyday life in plain and simple images without distracting details. Her photographs show the struggle of the people against the never-ending cold, deprivation and loneliness. At the same time, the photographer captures her home town with a warm and loving eye. Her photos radiate an almost fairy-tale magic that above all captures the imagination of their viewers. Evgenia Arbugaeva, born in 1985, works as a freelance photographer in Russia and New York. Her work has been shown in various one-woman exhibitions and has been published in magazines like Elite Traveller and Zoom.

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In his portfolio ‘Waiting to move', the winner of the Newcomer Award, Ciril Jazbec, sets his focus on recording the daily life and vanishing traditions of the Inupiaq Inuit people of Shishmaref. The village, situated on a narrow island off the coast of north-west Alaska, is threatened by global warming and the consequently rising sea level. In 2002, the residents voted to relocate their entire village to the nearby mainland to preserve their community. Since then, they have been waiting for the financial means to realise their move, but this has not yet been approved by the US government. The emotional images shot by Ciril Jazbec capture the mood of waiting and simultaneously document the solidarity of a small community caught between traditions and the modern age. Although their future looks bleak, the villagers demonstrate outstanding unity. This unity is the source of the energies that ensure that the hope of a new future is never lost. Ciril Jazbec was born in1987 in a small, idyllic village in Slovenia where he also grew up. Before studying photojournalism at the London College of Communication, he studied business sciences with a focus on management. Ciril Jazbec has worked as an advertising photographer for numerous Slovenian, Croatian and British agencies since the age of 20.

The top prize of Leica M camera equipment valuing around 10,000 euros and a cash prize of 5,000 euros, plus the Newcomer Award (also a Leica M, with one lens), will be presented in the course of the Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie in Arles, France, on 3 July 2013. More than 2,200 photographers from 101 countries responded to the invitation to submit entries to the international competition. The majority of the entries received were from Germany, the USA, Russia and Italy. This year the jury members included Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, artistic director of the Leica Galerie in Salzburg; Dimitri Beck, editor-in-chief of Polka magazine; Markus Schaden, publisher and freelance curator; Brigitte Schaller, art director of LFI magazine; and the two photographers Klavdij Sluban and Peter Turnley. The two winning portfolios plus the images submitted by the nine finalists of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award can all be seen in a special edition of LFI magazine (Special Edition 2013), together with interviews and background stories.