June 29, 2017 - Musée de l'Elysée - Matthias Bruggmann awarded the Prix Elysée
June 29, 2017

Musée de l'Elysée

Matthias Bruggmann, _Z6A4432, Irak, from the series "A haunted world where it never shows," 2016. © Matthias Bruggmann / Agence Contact Press Images / Prix Elysée.

Matthias Bruggmann awarded the Prix Elysée

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The Musée de l’Elysée is pleased to announce the winner of the second edition of the Prix Elysée: the Swiss photographer Matthias Bruggmann. Chosen by an international jury of experts among eight nominees, his identity was revealed to the public at the Nuit des images, Saturday, June 24, 2017. Building on the framework of his prior work on contemporary conflicts, Matthias Bruggmann proposed, for the Prix Elysée, to continue a long-term photographic project launched in 2012 documenting the conflict in Syria. He receives the sum of CHF 80,000, to be divided between the completion of the proposed project and the publication of the accompanying book in June 2018.

Matthias Bruggmann speaks about his project, A haunted world where it never shows
“Formally, my previous work put viewers in a position where they were asked to decide the nature of the work itself. A scientifically questionable analogy of this mechanism would be the observer effect in quantum physics, where the act of observing changes the nature of what is being observed. My Syrian work builds on this framework.

"From a documentation perspective, it is, thus far and to the best of my knowledge, unique as the work, inside Syria, of a single Western photographer, in large part thanks to the assistance and hard work of some of the best independent experts on the conflict. Because of the nature of this conflict, I believe it is necessary to expand the geographical scope of the work.

"At its core is an attempt at generating a sense of moral ambiguity. The design of this is to make viewers uneasy by challenging their own moral assumptions and, thus, attempt to bring, to Western viewers, a visceral comprehension of the intangible violence that underlies conflict. One of the means is by perverting the codes normally used in documentary photography to enhance identification with the subject. While perfectly conforming to accepted documentary norms, part of the work aims at eroding the viewer’s implicit faith in my own trustworthiness as a witness, and attempts to force a further reflection on the nature of what is presented.”
Matthias Bruggmann

A unanimous decision of the jury: politically-engaged photography, between art and documentary
The unanimous jury was composed of Mimi Chun, Founder and Director of the Blindspot Gallery (Hong Kong), Andrew Sanigar, Commissioning Editor of Thames & Hudson (London), Salvador Nadales, Curator of Collections Department and Head of Institutional Relations of the Museo Reina Sofia (Madrid), Astrid Ullens de Schooten, Founder and President of the A. Stichting Foundation (Brussels), and the founding partners, Tatyana Franck, Director of the Musée de l’Elysée (Lausanne), Michel Parmigiani, Founder of Parmigiani Fleurier (Fleurier) and Marina Vatchnadze, Manager of Cultural Patronage of the Sandoz Family Foundation (Pully).

“Matthias Bruggmann’s work leaves no one indifferent. The Musée de l’Elysée was built with photojournalism and has since then been witness to its changing codes. Matthias Bruggmann questions them and reappropriates them in a committed work of wide-ranging scope”
Tatyana Franck, director of the Musée de l’Elysée

“Matthias Bruggmann’s project presented us with insights into the complexities and the lives on the line in the Syrian crisis. His work is brave, startling, compelling, raw and sometimes bizarre. We see images of the war in Syria in our news media everyday, but the direct yet layered and intricate nature of Matthias’s ways of working clearly has the potential to come together as a book that will, in some way, allow us to understand why Syria and its people have ended up in such a desperate situation.”
–Andrew Sanigar, Commissioning Editor, Thames & Hudson, London

About the Prix Elysée
Result of a partnership between the Musée de l’Elysée and Parmigiani Fleurier, the Prix Elysée offers financial help and curatorial guidance to artists with a passion for photography and books, so they can take a decisive step in their career. The third edition of the Prix Elysée will be launched in January 2018.

Musée de l'Elysée
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