The projects of the five young photographers, finalists of the current edition of The MAST Photography Grant on Industry and Work, now in its seventh edition, are on show at MAST, in Bologna until May 1st 2023.
The projects by the five young finalists of the current edition of The MAST Photography Grant on Industry and Work, now in its seventh edition, are on show at MAST, in Bologna until May 1st 2023. Alongside the projects of the five finalists, the show also features works from all twenty-four finalists of the previous editions, forming a multiform display intended to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the inauguration of MAST as well as the fifteen years of commitment to organizing the MAST Photography Grant (the first one was awarded in 2008).
Each of the 2023 finalists, Farah Al Qasimi, Hicham Gardaf, Lebohang Kganye, Maria Mavropoulou, Salvatore Vitale, who have been selected from candidates from all over the world by an international jury, developed an unpublished project for the Fondazione MAST. The MAST Grant aims to support contemporary research on the representation of industry, the transformations produced in society and landscape, the role of labour in economic, cultural and social development.
The winner of the MAST Photography Grant 7th edition is Hicham Gardaf (Tangier, 1989), with In Praise of Slowness, while The Jury’s Special Mention has been awarded to Lebohang Kganye (Johannesburg, 1990). The project by Gardaf deals with the contrasts between the growing, expanding part of Tangier and its historic centre with its ancient streets, the slow and measured pace of people and street merchants. In his photographs and film, he recalls voices and sounds of this part of the town, with the announcing of the stock of bleaching agent. The street vendors scream their ever-same cry, bringing it to the inhabitants and later collecting the empty plastic bottles. It is like a ritual rooted in the social sphere. “Subjugated to advanced technology’s impact on everyday life, Tangier, a hybrid city with its ever-expanding industrial zones, is undergoing an unprecedented social transformation and accelerated urbanization”, Dominik Czechowski writes. Keep the Light Faithfully by Lebohang Kganye stages moments of South African life, mixing up photography, narratives, staging scenes like a Chinese shadow theatre and using characters as cut-out silhouettes on cardboard. Theatrical lighting and the arrangement of the figures in the scene give rise to installations, characterized by an interesting depth perception. Kganye re-imagines and re-stages narratives of women light keepers from the 19th and 20th century, creating an impressive fantastic-real image theatre.
Farah Al Qasimi (Abu Dhabi, 1991) focuses on the large Arab community of Dearborn, Michigan, the hometown of Henry Ford and the historical site of the Ford Motor Company. With over 29,000 Americans of Arabic heritage, Dearborn shows a hybrid character and is an expression of two cultures, the Arab and the American. Al Qasimi moved around the city examining it as a transport and cultural system, observing the people, their activity, their journey to work and the impact of their activities on the walls. In so doing, she has created a kind of amalgam of views onto the real city and onto the city as it is photographed and she re-staged all this material like a piece of city wall, as a palimpsest, with overlapping layers and cultural codes. Artificial intelligence is used by Maria Mavropoulou (Athens, 1989) for her In their own image, in the image of God they created them. It’s interesting to understand when and how the artist comes into play. She inserts several text prompts in a text-to-image algorithm and the AI, thanks to its enormous pool of data, interprets the request in a visual output that alludes to the requested parameters. At this point, the artist chooses an image from the algorithmically compiled ones and asks the program to create more variations. Then Mavropoulou uses these images as tiled elements in her compositions, making pictures that seem familiar to us. The obvious question is whether AI could make artwork independently in the future. Death by GPS, the complex project by Salvatore Vitale (Palermo, 1986) evokes the atmospheres of a laboratory, a television studio and a place that has been the scene of disorders at the same time. Documentary photographs of real events and staged sabotage videos (crushing pc and phones) are juxtaposed, inviting the viewer to reflect on the incongruities of automation. The project deals with the human being in the current technological revolution, in which every action, every being is determined by technology, by the automatization of working processes and the market.
“The working world is undergoing rapid change and the actual new situation is generally known in Europe as “Work 4.0” or “New Work”. According to the curator, Urs Stahel, « when we talk about the industrial revolution we usually refer to a time frame that affects the last 250 years, characterized by technical and technological development. In the last 250 years, however, the development of technology, science, and economy has been so rapid, dynamic and radical as to give rise to a real and permanent revolution”.
The catalogue, published by Fondazione MAST in Italian and English, is edited by Urs Stahel and contains texts by Negar Azimi, Federica Chiocchetti, Dominik Czechowski, Elvira Dyangani Ose, and Nikolas Ventourakis.
Founded in 2007 to support research on the image of industry and work and to give voice to emerging talents, the MAST Photography Grant on Industry and Work is promoted by Fondazione MAST. Over time, the competition has contributed to the creation of a photographic collection of contemporary artists who are now part of the historical collection of industrial photography of Fondazione MAST.