17 April 2019

Nikita Teryoshin wins the PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant

17 April 2019 - Written by Simon Hall

His project, Nothing Personal, offers a new perspective on modern warfare, presenting a behind the curtains look at the commercial business behind global defence. Mexican photographer Liza Ambrossio claimed the New Generation Prize and a solo show at PhEST with The Rage of Devotion, a deeply intimate portrayal of her own personal psychology.

From Nothing Personal © Nikita Teryoshin

An independent jury comprised of Louise Fedotov-Clements (FORMAT Photography Festival), MaryAnne Golon (Washington Post), Max Pinckers (Photographer), and Thyago Nogueira (Instituto Moreira Salles) has awarded the £8,000 PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant Main Prize to Nikita Teryoshin for his series Nothing Personal, a startling exploration of the sinister world behind the business of conflict.

Gaining access to highly exclusive defence trade fairs across Europe, Africa, and Asia, Teryoshin captures crowds of elite businessmen, soldiers, and leading politicians in a setting where the civility of sipping wine is uneasily juxtaposed against the trading of lethal weapons of mass destruction. “By turning his camera towards the source of war-violence rather than its consequences, Teryoshin provides a refreshing insight into the business of warfare, revealing the bureaucratic and commercial side of armed conflict as a lucrative private enterprise” explains Max Pinckers. “By photographing using a decisive and bold aesthetic strategy, the industry of the global arms trade comes across as banal and even humorous, yet this series of images contains a more sinister undertone suggested by deliberately obscuring any identifiable actors - often literally by the weaponry itself. The anonymity, privatisation and corruption of this industry is underlined by this simple yet effective and consistent aesthetic gesture, which is what makes this work so appealing.”

From Retrotopia © Yangkun Shi

The £3,000 Second Prize was claimed by Yangkun Shi’s Retrotopia, a documentary-based project that delves into the remnants of China’s past and examines the ambiguous symbols of its oftentimes contradictory present. “Yangkun Shi’s melancholy series explores the paradox between China’s grand embrace of capitalism and the villages that still cling to Mao’s socialist dream” describes MaryAnne Golon. “China’s future will not include these relics from its past. The gorgeous use of a muted colour palette and striking compositions, combined with skillful editing, lead the viewer through a powerful series of photographs that combine the sparkling grandeur of the new with the drab and misty longing for the old. Shi’s portraits are particularly haunting as young faces of China stoically face their generation in transition”.

From Dystopia © Fernando Montiel Klint

Fernando Montiel Klint was awarded the £2,000 Third Prize with Dystopia, a striking visual essay that can be viewed as a reflection upon society’s transition to post-humanism. The work looks to question what new forms of behaviour will be induced by the rise of technology and what paradigms will exist as we continuously migrate to digital communication platforms. “Pastel colours and delicate gradients, strange bodies and polished objects create the vision of a future as beautiful as it is toxic” says Thyago Nogueira. “These photographs reference sci-fi movies and fashion advertisements with a touch of humour that blends rigour and improvisation.”

David Vintiner (Futurists), Gloria Oyarzabal (Woman Go No’Gree), Jennifer Greenburg (Revising History), Guilherme Gerais (The Best of Mr. Chao), Máté Bartha (Kontakt), and Michal Solarski (Rest Behind Curtain) were all granted Honorable Mentions.

The Rage of Devotion © Liza Ambrossio

The New Generation Prize – awarded to a photographer under 30 years of age – went to Liza Ambrossio for her work The Rage of Devotion. Louise Fedotov-Clements explains the jury’s decision: “Ambrossio’s series caught our attention. Her work speaks of a life lived, suffered and desired. By deconstructing and rebuilding her past, using the fragments from her own archive of macabre paintings, performance, intervention, installation, psychology, sci-fi, ero-guro and witchcraft, she rejects her own childhood and upbringing. She reconstructs her personal history, almost as a therapeutic act in order to have the freedom to exercise the power of her own imagination.” Ambrossio wins a monetary prize of £2,000 to help support her future projects and a free, four-hour consultation with a mentor of her choice from the newly launched PHmuseum Education Program.

Nanna Heitmann (Hiding from Baba Yaga), Ingmar Björn Nolting (Behind Facades), and Ronghui Chen (Freezing Land) each received a New Generation Prize Honorable Mention. All 13 of these works will feature in projections at Cortona On The Move (Italy), Just Another Photo Festival (India), and Obscura Festival (Malaysia) later this year.

Bombay Dream © Yana Wernicke

Ambrossio’s The Rage of Devotion was also the winner of the solo exhibition at the next edition of PhEST, set to take place in Monopoli, Italy in September. Arianna Rinaldo, a member of the PhEST curatorial team that assigned the prize, says of the series: “Liza explores her own personal and family story weaving it with the history of witchcraft mythology in her native Mexico. The work offers an ambiguous mix of fantasy and reality, through staged images and performative acts that touch our deepest chords. Rage and devotion are two alternate and alternative states of the soul that Liza succeeds in displaying in a powerful and mesmerising manner.”

In the other prizes on offer this year, Yana Wernicke (Bombay Dream) was granted a spot on a workshop at Cortona On The Move in July; Mariceu Erthal Garcia (Latters to Gemma), Mohammadreza Soltani (Where the Wind Carries Bullets), and Tara Fallaux (Wild Poppy) all won features on World Press Photo’s online publication, Witness; and Lebohang Kganye (Ke Lefa Laka: Her Story), Gabriella N. Báez (Loud Silence), Alexander Cabeza Trigg (Duende), Brendon Kahn (You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth) were each awarded a 60-minute online portfolio review as part of the PHmuseum Education Program.


We wish to send our congratulations to all the photographers who presented their work to the PHmuseum 2019 Photography Grant. In addition to the main prizes, we’ll feature many of the submissions on the various curated sections of our platform throughout the next few months.

To see all the winning projects, go to

Written by

Simon Hall

Reading time

5 minutes

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