CURATOR'S CHOICE: Artist's Statement

First Place: Brandy Trigueros

The Dadabyte Theater

An ode to the Dadaists and Bauhauslers, “The Dadabyte Theater” explores the technologized body within our present Fourth Industrial Revolution. Utilizing in-camera auto portraiture, I reflect on the complexity of contemporary post-human configurations and attempt to find balanced modes of [being] in a hyper-connected, mechanical society dominated by technology. Autonomous machines of war, labor, pleasure, care, and other technological systems of control and comfort are being produced within this dizzying systemic capitalist merry-go-round. By using products of industry, I aim to illustrate the constraints, contradictions, and complexities of our technological entanglement and chose to explore my own agency through this work.

CURATOR'S CHOICE: Artist's Statement

Second Place: Rafael Soldi

Imagined Futures

Imagined Futures addresses a concern that is universal to most queer immigrants: How do we mourn the futures we left behind in order to live this one? Over the course of two years I utilized photo booths as a stage for performative ritual and a witness to a farewell. Like the Catholic confessionals of my youth, the photo booth became a space to record a private sacrament. As each never-realized, imagined future drifted to the surface unannounced, I found an empty cabin in which to close my eyes, acknowledge its presence, thank it, and give it permission to leave.

CURATOR'S CHOICE: Artist's Statement

Third Place: Stephanie Taiber

Natural Order

Sizes vary: (most) 20x28 or 25x35 (some) 40x60 or 10x14, in some cases images work together as diptychs and triptychs.

In Natural Order I explore the relationship between family dynamics and natural forces in order to better understand the processes of love and loss and to call attention to the problematic nature of photography as a means of documenting both time and memory. Treating images as artifacts I am suggesting that relationships are subject to the laws and forces of nature, forming and eroding over time and under circumstance.

CURATOR'S CHOICE: Juror's Statement

Marina Chao

Assistant Curator, International Center of Photography

It was a tremendous honor to be invited to judge the CENTER Curator’s Choice award, but I had no way of anticipating just how much of a privilege it would be to review this year’s submissions. In the midst of a pandemic, we are all learning to cope with new realities and are grappling with dizzying feelings of fear, compassion, grief, and gratitude. In the face of so much turbulence and uncertainty, it was a gift to spend time with the work of over 250 artists and see such a wide variety of approaches to photography, ranging from projects that confronted the most pressing social issues of our time to others that explored the most enduring of human emotions to those that took the medium itself as material and conceptual inspiration. In the end I was left more in awe than ever of the intelligence, vulnerability, and generosity of artists. Thank you to everyone who shared their work.

The strength and diversity of the projects made it difficult to select just three finalists, but as the impact of the pandemic and experience of social distancing were naturally never far from my mind, the projects below stood out and stayed with me.

Trigueros draws inspiration from Dada and the Bauhaus school for her irreverent interdisciplinary series, The Dadabyte Theater. In each self-portrait she wears an intricately designed costume and incorporates found-object props to playfully reimagine our relationship to the technologies that increasingly shape our lives. Trigueros’ unique formal and conceptual wit set this project apart.

Imagined Futures is composed of photo booth self-portraits made by the artist over the course of two years. In an elegiac ritual akin to confession, Soldi steps into the empty booth, acknowledges a possible future lost to his decision to leave his home country, and releases it. He appears in each photograph with his eyes closed, the camera catching him in an instant that is simultaneously mournful and rapturous.

In Natural Order the artist relates the fragility of even our closest family bonds to ideas of domesticity and the incompleteness of photography. Palpable feelings of tenderness and loss pull us through the intimate spaces of a home as Taiber constellates rephotographed pictures, images of the natural world, and photographs of personal objects into a meandering, speculative family album.