The search for identity and the poetry of everyday life were captured by photographers in the zenith Photo Award, with the theme Islam in Europe. The winners were announced at a ceremony in Berlin.
Covering the theme Islam in Europe, more than 50 photography series were whittled down to a shortlist of three in both the amateur and professional photographer categories of the zenith photo award. The winners were announced at a ceremony at the Museum at the Kulturbrauerei on 15 November 2017.
For almost 15 years of my work, I tried to normalise the idea of Islam.
French photographers were well-represented in the submissions, which included entries from the United Kingdom, Spain, Greece, Italy and Germany. The competition sought to challenge stereotypes and inspire creative approaches to contribute to debates across Europe. “Many entries focused on the struggle and search for identity,” said Mauro Bedoni, an Italian photo editor and jury member.
“I am a war correspondent used to negative perceptions of the matter,” said Spanish journalist Mayte Carrasco, the jury head. “We really wanted something different here and to focus on normal life stories. We wanted something natural, philosophical and even poetic.”
First place in the professional category – with a cash prize of €3,000 – was awarded to French photographer France Keyser. Her photo series ‘French and Muslim’ shows Muslims who are active members of French society, whether in the army, in political life or combating radicalisation. “For almost 15 years of my work, I tried to normalise the idea of Islam,” said Keyser. “Muslim people are just ordinary people.”
The first prize in the amateur category went to Berlin artist Ayse Avdic. Her series ‘Resilience’ portrays refugees from Chechnya, Syria and elsewhere in the context of their new homes. “For me, it is about taking the stories of the people and transforming it into something creative. They tell us their stories, visions and struggles,” Avdic said, who received a €1,500 cash prize. “Avdic is able to convey in images wordless messages through body language,” wrote the jury.
The winner of the Popular Choice Award was the series ‘Encounters at the Museum’, submitted by the association Friends of the Museum of Islamic Art, which has brought together refugees and Berliners through various museums in the German capital. The series had been selected earlier by online voting at https://photoaward.zenith.me, and was awarded € 500 in prize money at the event.
The awards ceremony was followed by the opening of the accompanying exhibition, presenting a selection of 50 pictures from all the photo series submitted. The exhibition runs until April 2018 and will then go on tour through Germany.
And the photo award’s mission of normalising perceptions of Islam will hopefully move forward as well. “We have come a long way already but we would like to go even a little further,” said Asiem El Difraoui, a co-founder of the Candid Foundation. “The term ‘Islam in Europe’ was really helpful in the past to fight polarisation. But it does sounds like something harmful. Most Muslims here want to be considered as European citizens first. So, I hope one day we will talk about something else instead: Islam of Europe.”
To view the winning series in the professional category:
The winning series in the amateur category:
And the winner of the popular choice award: