A Norwegian photographer has taken the top spot in this year’s Leica Oskar Barnack Award with his long-term project entitled ‘Slash & Burn’.
Terje Abusdal impressed the competition judges with his expressive shots of the Forest Finns, a recognised ethnic group in Norway that has a deep connection to nature. Originally started as his thesis project during his time at the Danish School of Journalism, Absudal’s project functions as both a record of the Forest Finn people and as a study in how to capture the immaterial in photography. In his attempt to try to capture the ephemeral aspects of their culture, he started to blend reality and fiction, mixing into his shots the fire, smoke and Shamanism of the group’s history in what he calls “a deliberate attempt to create a fictional universe, a magical world.”
As grand prize winner, Abusdal will receive €25,000, a Leica M-series camera and accompanying lens.
Also celebrated at the awards was Newcomer Award-winner Sergey Melnitchenko of Ukraine, for his impressive portrait series ‘Behind the Scenes’, capturing in detail the off-stage lives of dancers in a club in China. The judges were impressed with the sensitivity in the 25-year-old’s work, despite the occasionally harsh subject matter he was dealing with.
As the Newcomer Award winner, Melnitchenko will also receive a Leica M camera and lens, as well as €10,000 in prize money.
Speaking about the winning photographers, Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Art Director and Chief Representative of Leica Galleries, writes:
“I would like to congratulate Terje Abusdal and Sergey Melnitchenko, the winners of this year’s Leica Oskar Barnack Award, on behalf of the whole jury. Both photographers have impressively shown that they have a truly special eye for seeing and portraying the interaction of people with their environment. They have won through against a total of around 2,700 competitors from 104 countries and have convinced all members of the jury with their impressive portfolios’, explains Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Art Director & Chief Representative Leica Galleries International.”
The Leica Oskar Barnack Award is one of the longest-established and most prestigious photographic competitions worldwide – this year marks the 37th edition of the contest. Each year, photographers are challenged to capture and express the relationship between people and the environment across a series of 10-12 shots.
Some of our favourite winning shots and finalists are below, or you can click here to see the full gallery of results.