Iranian photographer returns €50,000 prize
Source:The Art Newspaper Date: 2014-09-19 Size:
Newsha Tavakolian says the founder of the Paris-based Fondation Carmignac interfered with her work...

A portrait of Somayyeh, a 32-year old divorced teacher in Iran.

A row has erupted between the Paris-based Fondation Carmignac and the Iranian artist Newsha Tavakolian, who stepped down as the winner of the foundation’s photojournalism award and returned the €50,000 purse. Tavakolian says the organisation’s founder Edouard Carmignac interfered with her work, while the foundation argues that she did not respect the terms of the prize and has cancelled a show of her work planned for November.

Tehran-born Tavakolian had been awarded the prix Carmignac Gestion du photojournalisme in October 2013, but to ensure her safety as she realised her proposal—a photographic essay about the middle class in Iran—her identity was not immediately revealed by the jury, led by Anahita Ghabaian, the director of the Silk Road Gallery in Tehran. The Fondation Carmignac officially presented her with the €50,000 prize on 10 July at the Rencontres d’Arles annual photography festival in the south of France (until 21 September), when a selection of her photographs for the project, completed between December 2013 and April 2014, were also shown.

Seven weeks later, the Foundation quietly shelved Tavakolian’s planned exhibition at the Chapelle des Beaux-Arts in Paris, which was meant to be part of the prize.

On 11 September, Tavakolian posted on her Facebook page: “Today I am announcing that due to irreconcilable differences over the presentation of my work, I am returning the cash award and stepping down as the winner of the Carmignac Gestion Award for photojournalism 2014, cancelling all my cooperation with this foundation and its patron, the French investment banker Edouard Carmignac.”

She added that “from the moment I delivered the work, Mr Carmignac insisted on personally editing my photographs as well as altering the accompanying texts to the photographs… Mr Carmignac’s insistence on changing essential aspects of my work would have resulted in completely changing the nature of my project from a subtle attempt to bring across the realities of life of my generation in Iran to a coarse and horrible clichéd view about Iran. His insistence on changing the name of the project from ‘Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album’ to the overused and loaded title, ‘The Lost Generation’ was simply not acceptable to me.”

The Fondation Carmignac responded to our sister paper, Le Journal des Arts, that the artist did not respect the rules of the prize and that the photo report she delivered did not correspond to what had been agreed.

A self-taught photographer, Newsha Tavakolian began her career in the Iranian press at the age of 16, working for the women’s daily Zan. At 18, she was the youngest photographer to cover the student uprising of 1999. She joined the New York agency Polaris Images one year later. In 2002, she began an international career as a war reporter in Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan and Yemen. At the 2009 edition of Photoquai, the Musée du Quai Branly’s photography biennial, one of her series on Iran was presented at the Hôtel de la Monnaie, Paris’s mint.

[Editor] 刘建兰