1 Winner © Terje Abusdal - Slash & Burn 2 Winner © Terje Abusdal - Slash & Burn 3 Winner © Terje Abusdal - Slash & Burn 4 Winner © Terje Abusdal - Slash & Burn 5 Winner © Terje Abusdal - Slash & Burn 1 Newcomer Winner © Sergey Melnitchenko - Behind the Scenes 2 Newcomer Winner © Sergey Melnitchenko - Behind the Scenes 3 Newcomer Winner © Sergey Melnitchenko - Behind the Scenes 4 Newcomer Winner © Sergey Melnitchenko - Behind the Scenes 5 Newcomer Winner © Sergey Melnitchenko - Behind the Scenes

Terje Abusdal and Sergey Melnitchenko are the winners of this year’s long-established and internationally acclaimed Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA) photographic competition. In the main category, ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award’, Norwegian photographer Terje Abusdal convinced the five members of the jury with his impressive long-term project titled ‘Slash & Burn’. In the category ‘Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer’ for up-and-coming professional photographers aged up to 25, Sergey Melnitchenko from the Ukraine won through against around 800 other candidates with his portfolio ‘Behind the Scenes’.

Between tradition and mysticism, ethnic origins and clan culture, facts and fiction, LOBA-winner Terje Abusdal’s equally mysterious and expressive photography bring us closer to the Forest Finns, an ethnic group that leads a life in close touch with nature in Norway. He began the project ‘Slash & Burn’, which subsequently developed into a long-term project, as his diploma thesis at the Danish School of Journalism. During his three-year research work, Abusdal delved deeper and deeper into the traditions of the Forest Finns, in the meantime a recognised ethnic minority in Norway. But how can immaterial aspects such as culture be captured in pictures when the traditions are almost extinct? Taking this question as a starting point, Terje Abusdal blurred the transitions between reality and fiction to an ever increasing degree. ‘I added certain elements from the history of the Forest Finns to the story – such as fire, smoke, shamanism’, explains Terje Abusdal. As a result, documentation and imagination are interwoven in his pictures in an irritating and simultaneously organic way. His pictures radiate a suggestive power and unique mysticism – the consequences of a deliberate attempt to create a fictional universe, a magical world.

Sergey Melnitchenko, the winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award Newcomer, convinced the jury with his impressive, simultaneously realistic and in literal terms, unwashed, in-your-face proximity to his subjects in his portfolio titled ‘Behind the Scenes“’. Hardly anyone has ever got as close to the dancers in a Chinese club as the Ukrainian photographer. Everything here is hard reality – it’s not about scenes. It’s about real life, our lives, or simply about my life’, says Sergey Melnitchenko. The day dawns after work in a hot and humid night somewhere in China – sweating transvestites, girls in bathtubs filled with beer, drunken artistes, and even more drunken guests. Bruised and battered legs, feet raw from dancing, laddered stockings in the light of make-up mirrors. Scratches and scars, mostly invisible, as they are wounds inflicted on maltreated souls. To deliver such insights, getting close is far from enough. Like Melnitchenko, you have to be a part of it all. The cinematic imagery of his portfolio has nothing to do with life in the spotlights, it tells stories of everyday life behind the scenes, his everyday life, with all the rough edges of show business. His portfolio, ‘Behind the Scenes’, reveals much more than many would like to see.

In addition to the two main categories, the work of ten other finalists were honoured with prizes of 2,500 euros each. The works of all twelve finalists will be on view from 1 March to 27 May 2018 in a large exhibition at the Leica Gallery Wetzlar. The catalogue LOBA 2017 presents the winners and finalists in detail with comprehensive portfolios and interviews and accompanies the exhibition.

More Informationen: www.leica-oskar-barnack-award.com

Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2017

02/03/2018 - 27/05/2018

Leica Gallery Wetzlar

Leica Camera AG
Am Leitz-Park 5
35578 Wetzlar

Phone: +49 (0) 6441 - 2080-0
Fax: +49 (0) 6441 - 2080-333