The Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA) will be presented for the 41st time this year. Around 100 high-ranking international photography experts submitted their proposals. Based on this selection, this year's jury has determined the LOBA Shortlist 2021. On 4 November, the winners in the main and newcomer categories will be honoured at the award ceremony, embedded in a great celebration of photography. The Leica Hall of Fame Award will also be presented at this event and the Ernst Leitz Museum will be presented internationally after its reorientation.
Until November, all finalists will be presented in more detail on the LOBA website. After the award ceremony, the Ernst Leitz Museum, with the kind support of WhiteWall, will show this year's LOBA shortlist series in an impressive exhibition. After the presentation at the Ernst Leitz Museum, the series will be shown in other Leica galleries as well as at photo festivals worldwide. An accompanying catalogue to the Leica Oskar Barnack Award will also be published this year.
The winner of the LOBA 2021 will receive 40,000 euros and Leica camera equipment worth 10,000 euros. The winner of the Newcomer Award will receive prize money of 10,000 euros and a Leica Q2.
The LOBA 2021 shortlist candidates and their series
Ana María Arévalo Gosen: Días Eternos (Eternal Days)
In her series, the Venezuelan photographer (*1988) focuses on the harrowing living conditions of imprisoned women. The pictures were taken in prisons in Venezuela and El Salvador since 2017. With great visual impact, she shows the causes and consequences of imprisonment, not only for the women, but also for their families and the societies of Latin America.
© Ana María Arévalo Gosen
Enri Canaj: Say Goodbye Before You Leave
The earth, nature, trees, the water of the sea: things people have to rely on when they have lost everything. The photographer (*1980), who was born in Albania and now lives in Greece, has documented in his black-and-white pictures the difficult living conditions of people in Niger, Greece and Italy who are completely on their own on their escape routes to Europe.
© Enri Canaj
Gabriele Galimberti: The Ameriguns
Private firearm ownership is firmly entrenched in US society. The Italian photographer (*1977) shows the extreme and eccentric effects of the constitutional right: for his series, he portrayed families and individuals in their homes and on their properties amidst huge and proudly displayed arsenals of weapons.
© Gabriele Galimberti
Graciela Magnoni: Nosotras (Us)
Moments of joy and simple existence: in her intuitive series, the Uruguayan-born photographer (*1961) presents the everyday lives of girls and women in intense images taken in thirteen countries and seventeen cities. The title is inspired by the Spanish word "we"; the motifs celebrate diversity, common humanity and the mystery of the female spirit.
© Graciela Magnoni
Santi Palacios: On the Edge
The powerful, dramatic moments were shot at close range on the three most important migration routes that connect Africa and the Middle East with Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. From 2013 to 2020, the Spanish photojournalist (*1985) accompanied people who embark on life-threatening journeys via the various routes, hoping for a safe, new life.
© Santi Palacios
Nicolò Filippo Rosso: Forgotten in Dust
Over the last five years, the Italian photographer (*1985) has spent several weeks and months on La Guajira, a Colombian peninsula where the indigenous Wayúu people live. Border disputes, water shortages, poverty and a coal mining area in the middle of a desert crossed by migrants and smugglers mean that life is only possible under the most difficult conditions.
© Nicolò Filippo Rosso
Nichole Sobecki: Where Our Land Was
Not only the ongoing civil war, but above all climate change is having catastrophic effects on Somalia. In her long-term project, the American photographer (*1986) shows the dramatic consequences of the drought for the inhabitants of the East African country. There, the global climate crisis is not a distant myth; people and communities already live on the edge of the abyss.
© Nichole Sobecki
Nikita Teryoshin: Nothing Personal – The Back Office of War
Illuminating glimpses behind the scenes of the global arms business: the Russian-born photographer (*1986), who grew up in Germany, shows the complete opposite of battlefields. Here, war is an oversized playground for adults. He found the motifs at exclusive defence trade fairs in Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America between 2016 and 2020.
© Nikita Teryoshin
Kiliii Yuyan: Rumors of Arctic Belonging
The Arctic is changing radically. In his impressive series, the American photographer (*1979) provides an insight into the fascinating visual worlds of the North. The icebergs are disappearing, as are their traditional inhabitants; in a few decades, the Arctic will no longer await us icy cold and unchanging, but vital: dying and reborn.
© Kiliii Yuyan
Emile Ducke: Kolyma – Along the Road of Bones
Thousands of inmates of the Stalin-era gulags died during the construction of a highway through the icy, remote Kolyma region in Siberia. The German documentary photographer (*1994), who currently lives in Moscow, not only searched for remnants of the former forced labour camps on his journey along the so-called Road of Bones, but also questions how they are remembered today.
© Emile Ducke
Tom Hegen: Coal Mining Germany
The series by the German aerial photographer (*1991) is dedicated to coal mining in Germany. His photographs show the devastation of the landscape from a great height in surprising beauty, bright colours and exciting symmetry. From this perspective, the consequences for the landscape as well as the complex relationship between man and the environment become all the more impressively visible.
© Tom Hegen
Ingmar Björn Nolting: About the Days Ahead
Germany in times of the Covid pandemic: Last year, the German photographer (*1995) undertook a 25,000 km road trip across the country under strict security precautions. This very personal series reflects a changing society that oscillates between collective isolation, fear, despair and the unconditional desire for improvised normality.
© Ingmar Björn Nolting
Ranita Roy: Standing on the Edge
The east coast of India is one of the most cyclone-affected areas in the world. The Indian photographer (*1994) documented the destruction and consequences of the cyclones in the Bay of Bengal last year. Life goes on even after the catastrophe, but due to the advancing climate change, further areas inhabited by millions will be enormously endangered in the future.
© Ranita Roy
The LOBA Jury 2021
Sandra M. Stevenson, Assistant Editor, Photography, The New York Times (USA). Ralph Gibson, Photographer (USA). Santiago Lyon, Photographer and Head of Advocacy and Education, Adobe (Spain). Dr Michael Pritchard, Director Education and Public Affairs, Royal Photographic Society (UK). Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Art Director and General Representative of Leica Galleries International (Austria)
Karin Rehn-Kaufmann on LOBA 2021
"Working together with the approximately 100 nominators and the top-class jury was a great pleasure and enrichment for me again this year. The diversity and the high level of the series impressed and touched me. The global impact of the pandemic has also left its mark on photography - all the more reason for us to be happy to award the LOBA in the usual way in times when the relationship between people and the environment plays an even more important role."
Ralph Gibson on LOBA 2021
"The LOBA judging experience was intense. But in a very interesting way, as the quality of work was very high. It's remarkable how many of the images I still remember weeks later. A testament to the quality of the series we discussed and considered. In my opinion, all the photographers who made the shortlist are winners."
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