ABU DHAB- The finest Emirati, Arab and international photographers have been recognised at a glittering ceremony for the eighth edition of the Emirates Photography Competition (EPC), one of the most important professional photography competitions.
The grand prize is awarded to the best work that presents innovative creative ideas in the main theme, this year signifying ‘Decisive Moment’.
From a staggering selection of 35,985 submissions, the grand prize was awarded to Italian photographer Cristina Garzone for her poignant shot which captured ‘Pilgrimage to Lalibela’, earning Garzone an FIAP gold medal and an AED 80,000 cash prize, while Belgian Rob Van Thienen won the Best Portfolio Award for his collection of dynamic ‘Dog Racing’ images, together with a AED 20,000 prize and FIAP gold medal.
Entries to the competition – the eighth in the annual series organised by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi) – were received from 8,410 photographers representing 58 countries.
“Our aim is to encourage photographers to research and work on new creative ideas inspired by the ‘Decisive Moment’ theme. The resounding international, regional and local interest in this edition of the competition has clearly excited photographers, professional and amateur, to creatively and intuitively capture an intimate and compassionate view of humanity,” said Badar Al Nomani, Emirates Photography Competition Supervisor, TCA.
“The foundations of the Emirates Photography Competition are deeply rooted in education which aims to develop UAE photography and attract talented artists to reflect upon and foster the concept of understanding cultures. Our investment in this talent will facilitate the growth of a cultural and artistic eco-system for Abu Dhabi,” Al Nomani added.
Other winners in the ‘Main Theme’ category include Hui Ling Fan from Taiwan whose work ‘Balancing Act’ was awarded first prize, an FIAP Gold medal and AED 20,000; ‘Fellowship’ by Greek photographer Costas Symiakakis took home an FIAP silver medal and AED 15,000 for second spot; with an FIAP Bronze medal and AED 10,000 awarded to ‘The Happy Generation’ by Chinese photographer, Min Ying.
This year’s main theme – ‘Decisive Moment’ – is inspired by Turkish born artist Yusof Karsh and his work, celebrating the importance of research, study and reflection. His body of work includes portraits of statesmen, artists, musicians, authors, scientists, and men and women of accomplishment, and his selection for the 8th edition of the awards reflects an indelible artistic and historic record of the men and women who shaped the twentieth century, and his role in influencing a new generation of Arab and international photographers.
In addition to the main theme, submissions were invited on seven themes – Nature, Creative, Travel, Colours, Future Image by Future Eyes, Monochrome and Colour photo print – and featured panorama, modern technical artistic processes, digital photographic artwork and printing works.
The contest is held under the auspices of the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP) and with the recognition of the Photographic Society of America. The EPC is also licensed by the United Photographers International.
The Competition’s goal is to develop photography in the United Arab Emirates by attracting regional and world photographers to reflect a diversified image of Abu Dhabi and the UAE, and the world’s rich and diverse cultures.
A jury of international experts, including acclaimed Arab photographers – consisting of Saeed Al Shamsi (UAE), Manolis Metzaki (Greece), Ayman Lotfy (Egypt), Zhou MeiSheng (China), and David Tay (Singapore) – met in Abu Dhabi between 20-25 January 2014 to evaluate entries according to a rigorous grading system to ensure the winning pool met the highest technical standard.
The winning photographs will go on show to the general public in a two-month exhibition, which will runs until 16 August at Manarat Al Saadiyat exhibition centre on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi. The winning entries will also be featured in a limited edition book, which over the past three years has won 5+ star FIAB catalogue rating and a recognition from the Photographic Society of America and the United Photographers International Organisation.
In addition to attracting entries from an international pool of talent, the competition also works consciously and holistically to develop UAE photographers and artists to advance photographic art in the UAE, where Abu Dhabi is the largest of the country’s seven emirates and home to its capital city.
Each year, the competition runs the Noor Ali Rashid Award for the Emirati Photographer – a special accolade which pays tribute to Noor Ali Rashid (1929 – 2010) who was a leading figure in photographic art in the UAE and whose work has contributed to the documentation of life within Emirati society. The 2013 honouree Nasser Haji Malek was selected for his portfolio celebrating local, environmental and cultural symbols of the UAE, earning him an FIAP gold medal and AED 30,000.
To complement the main exhibition theme, revered artist Tarek Al-Ghoussein, Artistic Director of Emirates Photography Competition’s 8th edition has curated works by four invited artists – Lamya Gargash, Reem Falaknaz, Shahidul Alam and Yasser Alwan – in a parallel exhibition that will discuss and investigate a Decisive Moment in their daily lives.
Lamya Gargash presents images from the “Familial” series, which was first exhibited in the UAE Pavilion as a solo show at the 55th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Reem Falaknaz’s ‘The Place of Perpetual Undulation’ reflects “study” and “exploration” forming a very personal portrait of a specific place. Shahidul Alam’s work has been instrumental in facilitating education, employing photography as a tool for activism and political understanding, while Yasser Alwan has spent several years producing work that has allowed him to develop a deeper sensitivity to and relationships with Egypt and its people. A series of specialised workshops, seminars and talks will accompany the exhibition.
The Emirates Photography Competition exhibition runs at Manarat Al Saadiyat Exhibition Centre, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi from 13 May-16 August, 2014.