New York-based American photographer Debi Cornwall is the winner of the Prix Elysée 2023.
Her current series, Model Citizens, will be exhibited at Photo Elysée during the summer. Politically and intellectually engaged, Debi Cornwall’s photographs explore the line between reality and fiction, truth and fake news, and question the function of photography as evidence. The Elysée Prize endowment of CHF 80,000 allows the artist to complete her research and publish a book.
Selected among the nominees of this edition, Vincen Beeckman (Belgium), Siân Davey (United Kingdom), Nicolai Howalt (Denmark), Khashayar Javanmardi (Iran), Alice Mann (South Africa), Gloria Oyarzabal (Spain) and Virginie Rebetez (Switzerland), “Debi Cornwall’s work is, as the jury points out, topical and an important contribution that comes at the right time given the effect of fake news in our societies.
Through her research, the artist questions the blurred line between truth and fiction. The project, which is both a political and intellectual engagement, underlines the urgency and necessity of questioning photography as evidence. The impact of fake news is not limited to the US – the artist tells a local story that speaks to global issues. We are convinced that with the Elysée Prize, Debi Cornwall will reach a new and wider audience, and that the prize will help to increase her visibility in Europe.”
The international jury
Chiara Bardelli Nonino, independent curator and visual editor, Milan,
Lewis Chaplin, co-founder of Loose Joints Publishing, Marseille-London,
Felix Hoffmann, artistic director of FOTO ARSENAL, Vienna,
Fiona Rogers, Curator of Women in Photography at the Parasol Foundation, Victoria & Albert Museum, London,
Christoph Wiesner, Director of the Rencontres de la photographie, Arles,
Michel Parmigiani, founder of Parmigiani Fleurier
Nathalie Herschdorfer, president of the jury and director of Photo Elysée.
A special mention
Challenged by his project See the Caspian, the jury also awarded a special mention to Khashayar Javanmardi to encourage him to continue his ambitious exploration of Iran.
Debi Cornwall is a conceptual documentary artist who has dedicated herself to her career as an artist since 2014 after twelve years of practice as a civil lawyer. Using absurdity and dark humour, she delves into invisible systems by layering still and moving images with testimonials and archival material. Her previous books Welcome to Camp America: Inside Guantánamo Bay and Necessary Fictions (Radius Book, 2017 and 2020) have received several awards.
Debi Cornwall’s project
“Photography can be evidence, but evidence of what? My project, Model Citizens, examines the staging of reality and the performance of citizenship in the United States, a militarized country whose citizens cannot agree on what is true. I began this investigation in my second book, Necessary Fictions (Radius Books, 2020), by photographing military wargames. Today I am casting a wider net, making photographs more elliptically related to my subject, whether they be institutional staging and role-playing or performances we play out in concert, consciously or unconsciously. In museums, exhibitions, trade shows, non-military training sites, including the U.S. Border Patrol Academy, and in everyday life, I make photographs designed to provoke an interrogation: how are fictions deployed, marketed, and embraced, alternately preparing us for, or distracting us from, the realities of citizenship in a society in perpetual violent crisis?”
Plateforme10, Pl. de la Gare 17, 1003 Lausanne, Suisse
June 01, 2023 to June 30, 2023