28 April 2022

Miraj Patel Claims The PhMuseum 2022 Photography Grant 1st Prize

28 April 2022 - Written by PhMuseum

Exploring his Indian American identity, the photographer questions the archetypes of the two cultures. See all the awarded projects and read the judge's motivations.

Do you see what I see, when I look at me? © Miraj Patel 1st Prize Winner

For the 10th edition of our annual grant, an independent jury comprised of Shoair Mavlian (Director, Photoworks), Alejandro Cartagena (Visual Artist), Joanna Milter (Photography Director The New Yorker), Thomas Sauvin (Collector and Artist) has assigned the €5,000 PhMuseum 2022 Photography Grant Main Prize to Miraj Patel for his project Do you see what I see, when I look at me?

His work is a sophisticated fictional narrative in which Patel rethinks his experience as a first-generation American born in India. Alejandro Cartagena explains the choice on behalf of the panel: “Looking at photography is something that fascinates me. The opportunity to see all these projects and ideas was a great opportunity to get a pulse of the photographic language in the 21st century. The judging for this prize was difficult and engaging. All the winners showed qualities that made them worthy of the prizes. For me, the winner did in the end show things that made me support it: humour, experimentation, questions of self and aesthetic experimentation."

The € 2,000-second prize was claimed by Polish photographer Weronika Gesicka who presented the project Cliffhanger, where she rework archival pictures to capture with irony our everyday fears. The choice is explained by Judge Thomas Sauvin: "With her Cliffhanger series, Weronika Gesicka revisits archival images from the last century, those black and white photos that we have seen a thousand times and that exist only to inspire beauty, success and happiness. This familiarity blinds us at first, but soon things get out of hand and the dream turns into a nightmare. Gesicka's interventions humorously inject a good dose of anxiety into images that were meant to be perfect.”

Cliffhanger © Weronika Gesicka 2nd Prize Winner

The third prize of €1,000 was awarded instead to American photographer Maggie Shannon for her work Extreme Pain, But Also Extreme Joy where she portrays accoucheuse and what it means to bear a life during the pandemic. Judge Joanna Milter motivates the panel's decision: "These intimate, carefully-seen photographs immerse us in the world of midwives as they provide medical and emotional support for women giving birth at home or in birthing centres, during Covid lockdown periods in Western Michigan and the Los Angeles area. These are not gauzy, soft images of childbearing; the black-and-white flash-treatment dramatizes the hard work, physical discomfort, and messiness of labour. But Shannon’s camera also captures moments of touch and connection that make luminous the communal effort needed to bring forth new life."

Extreme Pain, But Also Extreme Joy © Maggie Shannon 3rd Prize Winner

The New Generation Prize offering €2,000 was assigned to Togolese-German photographer Delali Ayivi for a project that document and empowers the Togolese creative youth scene. Judge Shoair Mavlian explains the reason for the judge's choice: "Togo Yeye, founded by the creative duo Delali Ayivi and by Malaika Nabillah highlight the wider artistic community in Togo. Combining traditional portraiture with experimental fashion, abstraction and colour, these images stand out and demand attention. Making use of the street, studio space and natural landscapes the work celebrates creativity.”

Further Asphodel Songs by Mathias Benguigui, Laissez-faire by Cristiano Volk and Pasaco, 1996 by Luis Corzo were extensively considered by the judges and were eventually recognised with an Honorable Mention. Same for Resident Aliens by Guanyu Xu and Three Colours I Know in This World by Kincső Bede in the New Generation Prize category.

Togoyeye © Delali Ayivi

PhEST's team granted a solo show at the coming edition of the Italian festival to Sara Hodges by Marcel Top. Giovanni Troilo (PhEST Artistic Director) and Arianna Rinaldo (PhEST Photography Curator) explain how they selected the work that will be exhibited in Monopoli, Italy this summer: “The collateral effects of mass government surveillance are far from being completely uncovered and known. One is certainly the control of our actions and the potential restraint on our freedom of expression. Marcel Top with his project Sarah Hodges confronts these concerns in an original way by playing the system’s game.  He succeeds in using the tools of the system to create an identity which collects the features (of the face but also the mood and preferences) of the perfect US citizen. This digital human, cleverly carved also as a physical mask which can be shared and used to break the system, represents an original attempt to reveal the global concern towards a technology which has invaded our daily lives. With a simple but sophisticated concept, Marcel builds an impactful 2D and 3D presence, that questions the state of mass tracking we are submitted to in a direct and comprehensible way.

Sara Hodges © Marcel Top

The exhibition at Getxo Photo Festival was awarded instead to Archivo Juárez by Alejandro Morales. The festival Artistic Director Jon Uriarte comments on the decision to bring the project to the Basque Country this June: "The project is presented as an album that is at once strange and familiar of a city traditionally represented with violent images. Using a popular viewing tool to look at images generated by a global mapping platform, Archivo Juarez explores how networked forms of production and circulation condition the representation of personal memories and the everyday life of Morales' hometown."

Archivo Juárez © Alejandro Morales

German Artist Johann Husser will travel to Landskrona this fall to produce work informed by the Swedish town and surrounding areas thanks to the residency bursary offered by Landskrona Foto. Their Artistic Director Jenny Nordquist commented: "With strong attention to form and light, Johann Hussers black and white photographs of urban architecture raise questions of home and belonging. He also uses new digital technology to deconstruct his images to raise questions about how we shape our cities, and whom we are developing them for, and this approach makes his work very appealing for our residency. Landskrona has an interesting architectural history and is currently undergoing redevelopment, therefore I believe Johann Husser will find inspiration here and an opportunity to expand his ongoing work”.

Proposal For A City © Johann Husser 

Moreover, Faysal Zaman, J Houston, J Nicolas Bernal, Morthou, Imane Djamil and Linta Butt were all offered to work with a mentor from the PhMuseum Education program.

Our best congrats to all the participants, the judges and all the organisations who supported this 10th-anniversary edition. We hope to continue working all together to share, support and enjoy visual language in the coming years.

While waiting for our next yearly Grant open call, after the great success of last year, PhMuseum Days, our International Photo Festival is back for its second edition. The theme is Today is Yesterday's Tomorrow and through its open call, we will select a minimum of 3 works for the individual exhibitions, plus 40 images for a collective installation to be held in Bologna, Italy from 23 September to 2 October. Learn more and apply at

Written by


Reading time

7 minutes

Support PhMuseum Journalism

Since 2012 PhMuseum's articles have always been free and without ads. Every year we work to keep you informed and invite you to discover the work of hundreds of photographers. If you enjoy reading us, this can be a nice way to give back and support our independent organisation, granting us more means to increase the quality and number of contents. Thank you!