21 November 2019

Natalie Keyssar wins the PHmuseum 2019 Women Photographers Grant

21 November 2019 - Written by PhMuseum

The US photographer claims the 1st prize with make Me A Little Miracle while Dutch photographer Robin Alysha Clemens the New Generation Prize. See all the results and the judges motivations.

From Make Me A Little Miracle © Natalie Keyssar, 1st Prize Winner

An independent jury comprised of Angelica Dass (photographer and TED speaker),Ashleigh Kane (Arts & Culture Editor At Dazed), Maggie Steber (Photographer and Educator), Marina Paulenka (Artistic Director at UNSEEN) has awarded the £5,000 PHmuseum 2019 Women Photographers Grant Main Prize to US photographer Natalie Keyssar for her work Make Me A Little Miracle, which attempts to reconcile the tragedy battering Venezuela, with the awe inspiring resilience of its people.

“Make Me A Little Miracle won the First Prize for Natalie's capacity to make use of complementary codes taking advantage of the classic language as an inheritance. Horizontal images are full of life; verticals are full of depth.” explains Judge Angelica Dass. “She is brave in portraits and poetic in capturing moments. She is calm and energetic - two qualities that are difficult to find together in a single photographer and in a single project. There is a great balance between form and content. Being delicate and strong while at the same time bringing us closer to Venezuela, showing that life goes on while we follow the news. Natalie denotes aspects to improve, like all of us, but I think receiving this award is a good opportunity to support having the "lioness" telling the story, and not the hunter, as always.”

From Caravana Migrante © Kitra Cahana, 2nd Prize Winner

The £2,000 Second Prize was claimed by Kitra Cahana’s Caravana Migrante, a long-term project that documents the 7,000 migrants who left from all over Honduras and neighboring El Salvador to reach United States. Judge Maggie Steber explains the panel choice: “Kitra Cahana’s Caravana Migrante project on the long and brutal march from Central America to the US border was documented by many people. But the mark of an artist is achieved when the work is elevated in a visual way that takes us into the heart of the people who make enormous sacrifices in order to reach the dream of freedom and safety. While we know this is the purpose of this mass migration - to reach safety - with her photographs Kitra Cahana takes us into the hearts of people making this brutal trek so we look beyond what they are doing and see instead who they are. Her photographs achieve taking us past just looking at an event that is part of a global migration and help us see individuals whose dreams are written across their faces. Even the way she photographs the “wall” takes on an eerie beauty, like shiny objects promising hope…. until you get there. Each person she photographed becomes someone we know. Each place, each group gathers in painterly and intimate moments. This is the mark of someone who has broken past the barriers of the everyday banality and taken us further into the issue by making photographs we cannot look past nor forget. With Kitra’s work, we are presented with photographs that are far more intimate, maybe dark, but definitely compassionate in the same way that her unflinching gaze appears in other oeuvres. No matter the subject, there is a poetic approach that reminds us that indeed, life is fragile for all of us, whether we recognise it or not. Any single one of us could be those dreamers who risk their lives in order to change them.”

From Iluikak © Mara Sanchez Renero, 3rd Prize Winner

The £1,000 Third Prize was awarded to Mexican photographer Mara Sanchez Renero for her work Iluikak (Close To The Sky) aimed at breaching the conventions of an assumed identity and explore a new state of consciousness that extends beyond a native community of Veracruz, Mexico. "Mara Sanchez Renero's project Iluikak - explains Judge Marina Paulenka - portrays the socio-political instability of the Mexican citizens who face injustice on a daily basis. The backbone of the story is the mountain, as a symbol of lifestyle, mystery, fantasy, history, nature and time. Through the tight relationship between what a photographic image creates and the reality it comes from, she accomplishes to bring us into the everyday life of the citizens, their folk customs, rituals, and forgotten heritage in an innovative and profound way."

Cecilia Sordi Campos, Zohra Opoku, Katarzyna and Marianne Wasowska, Ana Maria Arevalo Gosen, Charlotte Schmitz, and Nakeya Brown were awarded an Honorable Mention in the Main Prize category.

From Yo Soy Otro Tú, Tú Eres Otro Yo © Robin Alysha Clemens, New Gen Prize Winner

The New Generation Prize, for photographers under 30 years of age, was claimed by Dutch photographer Robin Alysha Clemens for her project Yo Soy Otro Tú, Tú Eres Otro Yo, a portrayal of the Mexican people and their faith. "We opted to assign Robin Alysha Clemens the New Generation Prize - explains judge Ashleigh Kane - as her photo series of Mexican people and their faiths manages to capture a feeling of transcendence you can often only experience in person. Her approach manages to navigate each person with zero judgment or bias and presents them in ways that honour each of their beliefs - something more than welcome and quite impressive for a photographer of her age."

Lucia Bláhová, Sofia Bensadon, and Giorgia Zaffanelli were awarded an Honorable Mention in the New Generation category.

From Sirius © Anna Szkoda, Winner of a solo show at Fotografia Europea 2020

A solo show at Fotografia Europea 2020 was granted to Polish photographer Anna Szkoda, who will showcase her project Sirius at the upcoming edition of the festival in April 2020 in Reggio Emilia, Italy. The festival Artistic Director's Walter Guadagnini motivates his team choice commenting: "In Sirius, Anna Szkoda stages a hybrid story between fiction and reality, which once again challenges photography and its role. She is able to create a strong bond with the viewers, nourishing their curiosity and enchanting them like a distressing telephone tale. Her placid photographs explore the fantasy before a potential crime with a gaze towards the infinite saving grace of the stars."

Kápar By Liz Tasa (selected by Alessia Glaviano), American West: Myths + Figments By Antonia Stoyanovich (selected by Chiara Bardelli Nonino), and There Is Nothing New Under The Sun By Kata Geibl (selected by Francesca Marani) will all be featured on Vogue Italia in 2020.

Un-Identified By Annick Donkers, China Dream By Teresa Eng, and The Springs By Hayley Austin will instead be featured on YET Magazine. Finally, photographers Oluwakayomide Tejuoso, Mercedes Cosco, and Kamonlak Sukchai will benefit of a 60-min free portfolio review with a mentor of their choice from the PHmuseum Education Program.

See all the awarded projects at

A last and huge congratulations to all of the applicants. We truly thank you for having joined our call and supported PHmuseum. In the next few months our team will take care of featuring many entries on the platform and social media channels, plus send you a survey to know how we can improve the initiative.

The next call will open on 14 January 2020. Stay tuned!

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