The Terry O’Neill
Tag Award 2012
One of the great joys of my career has been the Terry O’Neill TAG Award. In just a few years it has encouraged thousands of young photographers and every year with a panel of judges, selected for their standing in the industry, I get to see the work of the young people who will become the stars of tomorrow. It is exhilarating to sift through thousands of entries and see the world through their eyes – and to be surprised, because there are images out there that add new dimensions to the narrative of life and refresh our jaded palates.”
On January 18th 2013 London’s The Strand Gallery opened its doors to an exhibition of the ten shortlisted photographers for the acclaimed Terry O’Neill / TAG Award 2012.
The Terry O’Neill / TAG Award is an international competition for contemporary photography founded in 2007 as a platform for new and upcoming talent and, within only a few years, it has become one of the most recognized photography awards of current times. This year's judges included Terry O’Neill, Sean de Sparengo, Jon Jones, Melissa DeWitt, Lucinda Chua, Joe Partridge, Grant Scott and Mike Von Joel.
This year's first place has been awarded to Rome-based Alessandro Penso for his series ‘Youth Denied: Young Immigrants in Greece’. This body of work is looking at a group of young migrants taken in the port city of Corinth, where young men from all over the Middle East and Central Asia are stuck whilst waiting to illegally board lorries that will carry them further into Europe. Penso focused on a group of youngsters aged between 14 and 18 years and many have fled Afghanistan’s forced militarization and are now living in fear of police capture and racist attacks. The Terry O’Neill judges stated that Penso’s ‘Youth Denied: Young Immigrants in Greece’ ‘captures lives in limbo when they are left stranded looking for both safety and a future. We hope his work will help inform future generations of the depth of the crisis.’
The second place has been awarded to Wendy Sacks for her series ‘immersed in living water’ and the third place went to Marc Wilson for ‘The Last Stand’. Also shortlisted have been the photographers Alinka Echeverria, Andy Rudak, Jon Jonks, Ann-Christine Woehrl-Benin, Mimi Mollica, Piers Calvert and Massimo Barberio.The photographs that Most stuck with me, however, are those of Marc Wilson and Mimi Mollica.
Marc Wilson’s landscape series ‘The Last Stand: A Witness to War’ documents ‘the physical remnants of the war in the 20th century in the UK and northern Europe … these manmade objects and zones of defense now sit silently in the landscape, imbued with the history of our recent past.’ The photographs of the series are rather pensive, muted and melancholic and he managed well to not only capture the strange beauty of the individual objects in the landscape, but also to create a collection of photographic records of the past, landscape photographs as war witnesses.
Another series well worth pointing out Mimi Mollica’s evocative series ‘Terra Nostra’, an evocative project looking at the implications of the Mafia in the territory, in which context the Mafia has grown and built an identity and the people who fight against it. His aim is ‘to show that the Mafia is not only a problem of petty crime, violence and illegal dealings, but that it influences the whole of Sicilian society’. In all of this, Mollica has set himself a very hard task. Firstly, the Mafia is a common and familiar subject for photojournalists and have already been explored by photographers such as Oliviero Toscani and Jocelyn Bain Hogg. However, Mollica manages to set himself apart from the work already done – it is not in-your-face, his approach is a calm and measured, at times elliptical,he looks at the Scilian society in the present day. Many of the photographs in ‘Terra Nostra’ are simply observing everyday Sicilian life but now and then, Mollica mysteriously manages to capture scenes such as the handle of a handgun. ‘Terra Nostra’ follows the complex approach of being simultaneously native, an exile and an outsider – and he give it exactly this sense of being a stranger in one’s own land, even though it is full of details that only an insider could possibly capture.
If you have not yet seen this remarkable exhibition you still have time until Thursday 31st of January to make your way to The Strand Gallery to have a look at some up-and-coming photographers. Or, failing that, you can view the work from February 10th until March 6th at Lucy Bell Gallery in St Leonards on Sea.
The Strand Gallery
32 John Adam Street
Lucy Bell Gallery
46 Norman Road
St Leonards on Sea