The Mast Photography Grant on Industry and Work is in its seventh edition and, as for previous editions, brings a breath of fresh air with a broad international outlook, thanks to the young photographers who got involved with a complex and global issue, which comprises, with different declinations, the whole planet.
Until May 1st, 2023, the projects by Hicham Gardaf, Lebohang Kganye, Farah Al Qasimi, Maria Mavropoulou and Salvatore Vitale (the finalists of the seventh edition) are on show at MAST, in Bologna, along with the ones by the finalists from past editions. It is a way to notice the organic nature of this project as a whole, aiming to collect a global and multicultural view of the working environment and to reflect on its evolution.
This 2023 also the numbers count: 5, 7, 10, 15, 100. Let’s take a look: 5 are the finalists of the International Photographic Competition, and 7 are the editions of the Mast Photography Grant on Industry and Work that have been held in the last 15 years. The tenth anniversary of the founding of the international cultural and philanthropic institution MAST Foundation is also celebrated, and it’s the 100th anniversary of G.D., the company founded in 1923 in Bologna (nowadays it’s a worldwide leader in the packaging machinery sector), from which the first editions of the award derive the name.
The history of the Mast Foundation for Photography Grant on Industry and Work (this is its full name) is substantial, so it seems appropriate to divide the matter into two “episodes”, the first of which dedicated to the history of the award while the second focuses on the current edition.
The Grant in its first edition (2007-2008), was founded “with the aim not only of supporting young artists – Isabella Seràgnoli wrote at the time – but also, by promoting and buying the works of competing participants, of starting a collection of photographs based on labour that would be set up on the walls of an exhibition space inside a new multifunction centre under construction alongside the G.D. plant (that is the MAST PhotoGallery, ed.”. Since then, many projects took off, like the collection with its cultural vocation to document the world of work up to the present day, with images by well-known names as well as by young photographers, because “the foundation proceeded in “activating” new artists, encouraging them to expand and express their views on the working world”.
There have been seven editions and eleven winners: you can see some images by them in the photo gallery of this piece of news. The common thread concerns creativity, research into the world of work and its repercussions on society, not to mention a certain anthropological interest, which helps contextualise the images in order to contribute to the achievement of one of the objectives set since the Photographic Grant first edition, which is inquiring about the need for a new interpretation of industrial photography.
This has been occurring since 2008, with the inaugural edition of the GD4PhotoArt photographic competition (as the prize was then called), a challenge that was characterised by “a meandering exploration of industrial landscapes and revisitations of materiality and space”.
Significant images of the winning projects of all the editions, as already mentioned, are on show at MAST until May 1st, and allow an overall look at the global project that started 15 years ago. All editions are accompanied by a catalogue.
Since the beginning, the GD4PhotoArt was conceived as a biennial competition for young artists whose brief was the “aim to document and support photographic activity related to industry, its impact on society and the environment, and the role of human labour in economic and productive development”. The competition also marks the beginning of an ongoing systematic project on photography and industry, the purpose of which is to create a permanent collection. It has been designed as a multifunctional centre, next to the company’s historical headquarters in Bologna, by Rome-based architectural Studio Labics, which won an invited competition organized by G.D (COESIA group) in 2005.
The MAST Foundation is an international, cultural and philanthropic institution based on Technology, Art and Innovation and its name stands for Manifattura di Arti, Sperimentazione e Tecnologia (Arts, Experience and Technology). Founded in 2013, the Foundation aims to promote projects that leverage identity and creativity in order to develop new ideas and create new connections. The founding partners of the MAST Foundation are Coesia, a group of companies specialised in highly innovative industrial and packaging solutions, and the Isabella Seràgnoli Foundation, a private, independent non-profit organisation with the mission of promoting and developing activities and projects for the community, especially in the health care and socio-cultural sectors.