"...understated but deeply affecting image” wins $30,000 Bowness Photography Prize
An image described as “understated but deeply affecting” has won the $30,000 Bowness Photography Prize. The winning piece, a triptych, by Katrin Koenning, Three, is from the series, Lake Mountain (2018). The judging panel – MGA Director, Anouska Phizacklea, Director of Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Chris Saines, and acclaimed artist, Dr Christian Thompson AO – were unanimous in their decision to award Koenning the acquisitive prize for her subtle and quiet image of the bushfire-ravaged landscape of Lake Mountain, a decade after Black Saturday in 2009.
Of the winning work, Anouska Phizacklea said: "Katrin’s work speaks with quiet restraint about an issue that will define our generation – the loss of our landscape and the destruction of our planet. It is a powerful reflection on an intense event that left our bush in cinders and took a horrific toll on communities with the loss of so many loved ones.”
In a statement, Koenning said that winning the Bowness Photography Prize was the greatest public acknowledgement of her practice to date. “It is an indescribable feeling; this idea that after 12 years of never giving up you are being seen marks a truly moving moment to say the least,” she said. “If one of the roles of the artist is to engage critically with the times in which they live, winning the Bowness enables me to continue doing so.”
The Colour Factory Honourable Mentions went to three recipients: Zia Atahi, Polly Borland, and Angela Tiatia.
In 2019, more than 700 entries were received, with the finalists to be exhibited at Monash Gallery of Art until 17 November.
About Katrin Koenning
Katrin Koenning is a photographer from the Ruhrgebiet, Germany and relocated to Australia in her twenties. Koenning regularly exhibits her work in solo and group shows in Australia and internationally, including solo presentations at Paris Photo, 2017 and Hamburg Triennial of Photography, Deichtorhallen Hamburg, Germany, 2018. In 2016 her first book, Astres Noirs (published by Chose Commune) received the Australian Photobook of the Year Award and was shortlisted for both Prix Nadar and the Paris Photo/Aperture First Book Award. Her work has been published widely in volumes such as Photographers' Sketchbooks, Hijacked III, The New York Times, Financial Times Magazine, California Sunday Magazine, National Geographic, Der Spiegel Magazine, The Guardian, British Journal of Photography, Marie Clare, and ASX amongst others.
Koenning has previously been selected as a finalist in the Bowness Photography Prize in 2018 and 2014, when she was also awarded the People’s Choice Award.
Australia counts among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Increasingly extreme weather conditions are impacting destructively on environment and community. During the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires significant damage was caused at Lake Mountain, changing it forever. Continuing my engagement with ecological imaginaries, this triptych is part of a decade-long, site-specific work with a forest re-growing from injury, a mountain who owns my heart, and climate change. Lake Mountain is a work of love and return, in dialogue with a wounded living world. It is a work about Earth in trauma – fighting, pleading we change our violent ways.
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