The Nederlands Fotomueum proudly presents the twentieth edition of the Steenbergen Stipendium: the ultimate prize for the best photographic graduation project created by a student of one of the Dutch art academies.
Winner Steenbergen Stipendium 2017
The Steenbergen Stipendium 2017 has today been awarded to Eline Benjaminsen (b. Norway, 1992) of the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. In her photographic graduation project Where the money is made, Benjaminsen reflects on how the financial market has abandoned all connection with the earth. She will receive an incentive prize of 5000 euros from the Steenbergen Foundation.
‘If I say stock exchange, what image does this bring to mind?’ is the question Eline Benjaminsen repeatedly asks the viewer in Where the money is made. Meanwhile, a bird’s-eye view of the German landscape slowly passes by. The cinematic flight is frequently interrupted by colourful graphs showing the peaks and troughs of the financial market or by brief portraits of cities like London, Frankfurt and Calais, where high-frequency trading takes place.
Benjaminsen’s film reflects on how the financial market has abandoned all connection with the earth. The tall radio masts that set the stage for this high-frequency trading are the only physical elements that still remind us of this parallel reality in the clouds.
The jury – consisting of Caroline von Courten (chair of the Steenbergen Stipendium jury and assistant researcher in photographic theory at the University of Leiden), Jaap Scheeren (photographer and winner of an Honourable Mention in the Steenbergen Stipendium 2003) and Merel Bem (art critic and writer) – feels that Benjaminsen’s graduation project is an impressive work of museum quality. Its report states that ‘This work succeeds in capturing a pressing, fascinating and intangible subject in a highly professional manner. The film with its excellent soundscape stands head and shoulders above its competitors. The viewer is literally drawn into it. Her voice-over creates a sense of intimacy that counters the abstract nature of the (for many people) unfamiliar subject.’
The whole jury report can be read here (in Dutch).
Up until 8 October, visitors to the Nederlands Fotomuseum had the opportunity to vote for their favourite project. The work receiving the most votes was Welcoming, Recognizing, Also recognizing, Acknowledging, Also acknowledging, Emphasizing, Also emphasizing, Stressing, Recognizing, Emphasizing, Acknowledging, Agreeing, by Niké Dolman.
The work of the five students will be exhibited in the Nederlands Fotomuseum from 16 September until 29 October 2017.
The four other nominees, accompanied by the jury’s brief description of their works, are:
• Tim Cullmann (1989, Germany), Tulip – All2gether Sommer Kombi, www.timcullmann.de
Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam
The starting point for this work by Tim Cullmann is a visual study into the privately owned garden and the creative craftsmanship expressed to create it. He does this in a very idiosyncratic way by using the camera to understand the garden as a physical place while also creating an abstract photographic work. Patterns of a red and white checked tablecloth with a cherry pie on it, for example, melt into a harmonious overall structure. The graphic qualities of the garden’s paving suddenly are the main focus. He presents these images again as a paving pattern on a wooden construction frame.
In doing so, Cullmann questions the ownership (in the sense of appropriation) of images that naturally lurk behind the making of photographs. Do we have images in our heads before we create them? To what degree do they influence what we create? Or do they just provide a framework? An exciting experiment with images that creates a new way of looking at them.
• Niké Dolman (1991, Nederland), Welcoming, Recognizing, Also recognizing, Acknowledging, Also acknowledging, Emphasizing, Also emphasizing, Stressing, Recognizing, Emphasizing, Acknowledging, Agreeing,
Willem de Kooning Academy, Rotterdam
After reading the Paris Climate Agreement (a 20-page document), Niké Dolman remained particularly struck by its poetic tone. She felt that this tone was entirely at odds with the premise that specific goals and obligations were being imposed on the countries agreeing to this agreement. The more abstract than specific wording (to which the title of the document specifically refers) inspired Dolman to create a free photographic translation of the agreement. In this project, she presents herself as an excellent image-maker who can even capture clichés on camera in such a way that the viewer is tempted to think about what the aim of this climate agreement really is.
• Felicity van Oort (1989, Nederland), Either not dead or does not exist, www.felicityvanoort.com
Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Utrecht
On Wednesday, 12 September 2001, Antonio Arturo Hernandez’s mother did not get a phone call from New York. This young man usually called his mother in Mexico every Wednesday. He had probably been working the day before in the World Trade Center and was one of the many illegal immigrants who had died when the towers collapsed. In a widescreen slideshow, Felicity van Oort sketches a picture of the life of Antonio as based on historic family photos, still lifes and cityscapes of New York while his mother talks about him. Van Oort constructed this fictitious portrait so that the fate of one person and his family could symbolise the larger group of illegal immigrants who were never recognised officially as victims. Her slideshow begins with a long line up of facts about the unknown victims of 9/11; the viewer is immediately struck by Van Oort’s thorough research into this subject. The result is an honest portrait of this burning issue along with the emotional impact it deserves.
• Kevin Osepa (1994, Curaçao), Mester blousé, www.kevinosepa.com
Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, Utrecht
Kevin Osepa was born on a small island in the Dutch Antilles where magic, superstition and spirituality were part of the culture. Upon his arrival in the pragmatic Netherlands, it was as if all these elements belonged to the past. In his photography, Osepa searches for a merging of these two cultures by ‘re-enchanting’ the drabness of the Netherlands: adding colourful, aromatic interventions and other magic elements to the picture.
His personal quest for identity and environment is so whimsical and free that underlying matters also emerge: a colourful Netherlands, the presence and absence of para-realities in this country, and the impact that colonialism has on current generations.
The selection and exhibition will be realized with the support of and in collaboration with the Steenbergen Foundation.