The Photographers’ Gallery, the largest public gallery in London dedicated to photography, recently named the shortlisted artists for its annual Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. Now in its 15th year, the prize will be on display from 2 April until 29 April 2011, with the winner announced on 26 April.  Among the four nominated artists is Jim Goldberg, nominated for his exhibition, “Open See,” at The Photographers’ Gallery, London (16 October 2009 to 31 January 2010),

… documents the experiences of people who travel from war torn, socially and economically devastated countries, to make new lives in Europe. They have left often violent, oppressive, poverty-stricken or AIDS ravaged communities, in search of stability and the promise of a better future. Originating from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, these ‘new Europeans’ have met violence and brutality as well as hope and liberation in their new homes. Part of an ongoing project by Goldberg, Open See confronts us with the realities of migration and the conditions for desiring escape.

Goldberg’s images may simply reinforce problematic, two-dimensional views of Third World Failures. But I’d like to think that people will get over that, and comprehend, instead, the incredible ambition and labour necessary for making these leaps of faith–and the structural problems that makes “escape” (as he puts it) to First World dystopias an imagined necessity.

This man outside of a refugee camp in the DRC, clutching a radio in his arms, may be hearing news of possibilities and the impossibilities with which he is faced. The outstretched antenna of his possession reaches into an overcast sky, while his own eyes remain downcast: this metal beam is the portal through which he learns of the escape that some other location offers him, and hears about what little remains of what he knows and loves. All we can see is that so much has been lost between his eyes and the ground towards which his gaze is focused.

Deutsche Börse, the sponsor of the prize, advertises itself as “one of the world’s leading exchange organizations,” providing [i]nvestors, financial institutions and companies access to global capital markets,” whose “business covers the entire process chain from securities and derivatives trading, clearing, settlement and custody, through to market data and the development and operation of electronic trading systems.”

Further Reading

Exile, Return, Home?

Many will read Sisonke Msimang’s new memoir for its musings on exile and home, but it is also a political telling of the complicated South African transition.