19 May 2023: Who is this man of 1000 faces ? Why is he called so? Read to know more!
The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation prize for 2023 has been awarded to one of Africa's most significant contemporary photographers and modern artists, who pictures himself in the manner of significant historical figures like Martin Luther King and Angela Davis, among others.
At the Photographers' Gallery in London , photographer Samuel Fosso from the Republic of Cameroon, received the £30,000 (INR 30,81,474/-) prize, one of the most highly sought-after awards in the field of photography.
The honour was given in honor of Mr. Fosso's retrospective exhibition, which spanned his nearly 50-year career and was held at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris.
Samuel Fosso, who was born and raised in Nigeria, fled druing the Biafran war as a child and was adopted by an uncle in Bangui, Central African Republic, in 1972. He established his Studio Photo Nationale in 1975, just 13 years old, to shoot commercial portraits. He initially created self-portraits to fill in the blank spaces in his photographic films, but it quickly evolved into a form of expression that the artist has never given up.
“I started taking self-portraits simply to use up spare film; people wanted their photographs the next day, even if the roll wasn’t finished, and I didn’t like waste. The idea was to send some pictures to my mother in Nigeria, to show her I was all right,” Mr. Fosso said. He added, “Then I saw the possibilities. I started trying different costumes, poses, backdrops. It began as a way of seeing myself grow up, and slowly it became a personal history – as well as art, I suppose. In 1994, there was an exhibition of African photography in Mali. I looked out some of my self-portraits, and won first prize. Now my work has been exhibited in Paris, New York, London.”
The head of the Deutsche Börse jury and director of the Photographers' Gallery, Shoair Mavlian, appreciated Mr. Fosso's work. He said his photographs “uses a traditional, studio-based approach steeped in history, while at the same time his work remains relevant and addresses contemporary political issues of today with humor and authenticity”.
As "a man of 1,000 faces," Fosso assumes the roles of important historical characters for the camera, such as Mao Zedong, Malcolm X, and Patrice Lumumba, illustrating the part that photography plays in the creation of myths.