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The Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2023

As in previous years, these are renowned curators, gallery owners, art directors and picture editors, as well as numerous photographers from around the world. They will use their individual expertise and experience to nominate up to three photographic series, which will each include between 15 and 20 images. The only requirements for a nomination are that the photographs be of a documentary or conceptual-artistic nature, and deal with the relationship of humanity to the environment. This humanistic constant has been a feature of the LOBA competition, since its inception in 1979. That was the year in which Oskar Barnack, the developer of the Ur-Leica and whose name is given to the competition, would have been 100 years old.

The Leica Oskar Barnack Newcomer Award has complemented the main category since 2009, and is granted to a photographer under 30 years of age. Once again, nominees will be selected in collaboration with, and through proposals submitted by international institutions and colleges.

After viewing all the submissions, the five-person, international jury will come together to deliberate in May, at Leica Camera AG’s headquarters in Wetzlar. From a shortlist of up to twelve series, they will choose the LOBA 2023 winners in the main and newcomer categories.

Up until the moment when the LOBA 2023 winners are finally announced, all the shortlisted series will appear successively on the LOBA website. The highpoint of the LOBA 2023 will come in October, during the ceremony celebrating the winners, to be held in Wetzlar.

The main Award is endowed with 40,000 euros in prize money and Leica camera equipment valued at 10,000 euros; the Newcomer Award-winner receives 10,000 euros and a Leica Q3. Additionally, both winning and shortlisted series will become part of a large touring exhibition, which will first open in Wetzlar in October, 2022, on the occasion of the award ceremony, and will then be seen around the world at Leica Galleries and selected photo festivals. As in the past, a catalogue including all the winners and shortlisted candidates will accompany it.

Exhibition period
13. Oct 2023 - 31. Jan 2024

Shortlist Überblick 2023

Burning house, Bachmut, 31 January 2023, Donbas, Ukraine from the series "A Grave in the Garden".

The Russian invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022. Just two days later, the German photographer (born 1994) began her documentary work in the disputed areas. The pictures making up the series were taken within a year, in different places, and reveal the horrors of war and the cruel consequences for the population. The impressive reportage series provides a direct and unvarnished look at the daily existence of people who have to fight for their lives every day.

Horse Guards Parade, London, England, 21 January 2019 from the "Kingdom" series

The Irish photographer (born 1959) has been living in Great Britain for over 35 years. He appreciates British politeness, coupled with anarchic eccentricity. When Brexit happened, he began to rethink his relationship to the country, and to see details, daily gestures and public rituals in a new light. Consequently, since 2016, this has given rise to a series full of bitter irony, empathy and criticism of social and societal conditions. The photographer suggests that the sound of a quirky military band could make a fitting musical accompaniment for his shots.

Young cowherd in summer pasture, Ajaria, Georgia, 24 June 2018 from the series "The Final Days of Georgian Nomads".

The Georgian photographer (born 1965) has been observing and exploring the village communities of Adjara, one of the outstanding mountainous regions of Georgia. Old traditions and nomadic lifestyles are still alive there, but the difficult social and economical conditions are bringing increasing changes to the area. People are moving away; whole villages lie abandoned; and ancient traditions are gradually disappearing.

São Paulo, Brazil, 23 September 2022 from the "Liquid Cities" series

People in places of transition: the pictures taken by the Brazilian photographer (born 1981) are characterised by feelings of isolation, alienation, and even fear. By frequently integrating reflections into his pictures, the photographer captures various levels of reality, which are defined by the diverse personal needs of different social and societal groups. This exciting series was photographed in various major cities – primarily in the Americas, but also in Europe.

Young high school graduates dancing in front of sandbags, Odesa, Ukraine, 15 June 2022 from the series "Tributes to Odesa".

This series was taken in Odesa and the region surrounding the Ukrainian city, in June, 2022: it is a symbolic and strategically important place for both sides of the conflict. The Russian aggression had been going on for months; the city had been hit, but resisted the attacks. The Munich-based, French photographer (born 1979) focussed her reportage on quiet and simple moments of everyday life, revealing how people cling to their daily routines, in the hope of regaining a sense of normality.

A couple on the beach of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, 2 February 2022 from the series "Sea Beach".

Colourful life at the beach: Cox's Bazar lies at the southernmost point of Bangladesh. It is a popular destination for many of the country's population, stretching along the Bay of Bengal. It is considered a cultural melting pot, where people from every walk of life and place in society search for a few moments of relaxation and recreation. Though he is currently based in New York, the photographer (born 1989) originates from Bangladesh, and returned to this special place to capture the beach goers and atmosphere in brilliant colours.

The Glacier du Tour, France, 16 September 2022 from the "Elevations" series

Mountains, glaciers and, inexplicably, a nail: as a tribute to the early days of photography, the French photographer (born 1961) has been working on his series for the last three years, using a large-format 20×25 camera, and a historical photographic procedure from the 19th century. His view of dwindling ice zones and climatic change in the French Alpine landscapes surrounding Mont Blanc, which he has captured in monumental motifs by using this elaborate procedure, is extremely topical.

Alfredo Fierro and his co-workers Ubaldo and José wear protective suits while tending bees in the desert, Wenden, Arizona, USA, 11 March 2022 from the series "The Dying River".

The Colorado River used to run for 2,000 kilometres, from the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of California; but recent decades have seen the diversion of water for agriculture and for the growing cities, which has led to the river running dry in places. In his series, the German photographer (born 1992) reveals the struggle for the water which around 40 million people depend upon. The future appears particularly grim for the indigenous Cucapá people living in the Colorado Delta: without the river, their culture will die out.

Hangzhou, China, 17 April 2021 from the "New Comer" series

The Chinese photographer (born 1993) started his project using Weibo, a Twitter-like portal for short messages in China, where he found people interested in his sensitive portrait series. He finds that staged photo shoots represent a reflection of his own self-doubt, as well as the feeling of alienation and growing emptiness. The outcome is a touching portrait of the “New Comer”, a generation in search of personal development and their place in society.

La Ciénaga, Colombia, 14 July 2022 from the "Unearth the Memory" series

The Spanish photographer (born 1977) has been living in Latin America for over ten years. He photographed the series nominated for the LOBA in regions of Colombia most affected by armed conflict: Buenaventura, Cacarica, La Ciénaga and El Salado. Together with his protagonists, he developed motifs to serve as a way to remember, and to give visibility to the women and their experiences. There are images of pain, but also of hope for a peaceful future in this violence-ridden land.

Mariam, with the nails, Kfarkila, Lebanon, 3 January 2022 from the series "Fifty Years Later".

Lebanon is still suffering from the consequences of the civil war that began fifty years ago. Following brutal clashes, corrupt governments and months of lockdown during the Covid pandemic, the explosions in the Port of Beirut, in 2020, plunged the country even deeper into the abyss. Born in Lebanon in 1964, the American photographer dedicates her series to the women of the country: images capturing their presence, creativity, strength, dignity and resilience are representative of the hopes, dreams and fears of a whole generation.

Andrea at a photo shoot to celebrate her 15th birthday in Playas de Tijuana, Mexico, 19 June 2017 from the series "On This Side There Are Dreams, Too".

The starting point for this series: daily life for people along Mexico’s northern border – a region stretching 3,000 kilometres from Tijuana, on the Pacific, to the Gulf of Mexico. This border region is covered most frequently by the media when they are reporting on violence and migration conflicts. In contrast, the Spanish photographer (born 1984) focuses his quiet series on hopes and dreams, everyday stories and the unique landscape.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Special exhibition: Leica Design

On 13 October 2023, the Ernst Leitz Museum will open its doors to present "Leica Design". A special exhibition that puts the focus on the design essence of Leica products and transports visitors into a tactile world of minimalist elegance.

More Details