Judges

Alec Soth

Photographer

Expectations
What makes one photographic work stand apart from another? As a photographer, it is still a complete mystery to me why one image out of the thousands I take stands apart from the rest. So it would be disingenuous as a juror to try to quantify what I’m looking for. The best I can do is articulate what I’m not looking for. I’m not looking for someone who is trying too hard to make an impression. I’m not looking for someone to show off their technique or intelligence. I’m not looking for work of any given style or movement, nor am I looking for work that tries hard to create its own style.
I realize that this emphasis on what I’m not looking for appears negative. But my feeling is just the opposite. I love photography and want to respect the magical qualities of the medium. No matter how much effort takes place behind the scenes, the best work appears almost out of thin air. I’m not looking for a magician to show off how much time he’s spent developing a trick. To put it quite simply, I’m looking for magic.

Profile

Alec Soth (b. 1969) is a photographer born and based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has published over twenty-five books including *Sleeping by the Mississippi* (2004), *NIAGARA* (2006) *Broken Manual* (2010) and *Songbook* (2015). Soth has had over fifty solo exhibitions including survey shows organized by Jeu de Paume in Paris (2008), the Walker Art Center in Minnesota (2010) and Media Space in London (2015). Soth has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the Guggenheim Fellowship (2013). In 2008, Soth created Little Brown Mushroom, a multi-media enterprise focused on visual storytelling. Soth is represented by Sean Kelly in New York, Weinstein Gallery in Minneapolis, Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, and is a member of Magnum Photos.

Sandra Phillips

Curator, The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

I am very happy to be the juror for this year’s Canon award. I would like to encourage you to look at the world and make pictures that challenge us viewers. Nowadays there is a tendency to look inward, and make pictures that reflect essentially what the photographer thinks, what his mood is, how he or she sees him or herself. I believe this is a good time to look at the world again, to reconsider it, to see what is happening outside the photographer’s own ideas and fantasies.

Profile

Sandra S. Phillips is Curator Emerita of Photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
She has been with the museum since 1987, and assumed the position of Senior Curator in 1999. In 2017 she assumed the position of Curator Emerita. Phillips has organized numerous critically acclaimed exhibitions of modern and contemporary photography including Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance and the Camera Since 1870, Diane Arbus Revelations, Helen Levitt, Dorothea Lange: American Photographs, Daido Moriyama: Stray Dog, Crossing the Frontier: Photographs of the Developing West, Police Pictures: The Photograph as Evidence and An Uncertain Grace: Sebastiao Salgado. She holds degrees from the City University of New York (Ph.D.), Bryn Mawr College (M.A.), and Bard College (B.A.). Phillips was previously curator at the Vassar College Art Museum, and has taught at various institutions including the State University of New York, New Paltz; Parsons School of Design; San Francisco State University; and the San Francisco Art Institute. She was a Resident at the American Academy in Rome and received a grant from The Japan Foundation in 2000.

Dayanita Singh

Artist

What happens when we start to think of our photographs as raw material for various forms, including several that we do not even know as yet.
The first form for photography is the book, but can the book also be an exhibition? Can an exhibition be a book? Must an image be still? Could it be a moving still image? Or a still image that is moved after its making?
Of course the raw material has to be strong and in your own voice, and that in itself takes time, but once we have this raw material, what form do we give it? I look forward to your submissions, your photographs in whatever form they ask to be seen in.

Profile

Born in New Delhi in 1961, Ms. Singh attended the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad from 1980 to 1986 and studied documentary photography at the International Center of Photography in New York between 1987 and 1988. For the next eight years, she tracked a wide array of social issues in India, including Bombay sex workers, child labor, and poverty, and published numerous articles in European and American magazines. She continued to photograph scenes from Old Delhi for The Times of London over 13 years, which she published in the collection Myself, Mona Ahmed (2001).
At the end of the 1990s, she quit photojournalism once and for all and shifted her thematic focus to India’s wealthy and middle-class. She has been invited to exhibit her work at many international exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale (2011 and 2013) and the Biennale of Sydney (2016). Ms. Singh participated in the Reading Cinema, Finding Words: Art After Marcel Broodthaers exhibition at The National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto and The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo (2013 and 2014).

Yoshihiko Ueda

Photographer

The act of taking a picture is, at once, the act of capturing oneself in one’s true state. In this sense, I think of photographs as mirrors that reveal yourself. For lurking somewhere in the background of every photo are the thoughts and emotions of the photographer.
Therefore, I want contestants to confront me with many tingling, heart-pounding, pathetic, sorrowful, tortured, and, yes, even cheerful photographs. I’m truly hoping to find photographs that will fascinate and dazzle me in these ways.

Profile

Born in 1957, Mr. Ueda is a photographer and professor at Tama Art University. Recognition for his work includes the Tokyo Art Directors Club Grand Prize, the New York Art Directors Club Photography Award, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity Silver Lion, the Asahi Advertising Award, and the Photographic Society of Japan Lifetime Achievement Award.
Among his most noted works are Quinault, a collection of photos of a sacred Native American rainforest; Amagatsu, a series of portraits of Sankai Juku dancer-choreographer Ushio Amagatsu; At Home, intimate snapshots of Mr. Ueda’s own family; and Materia, images of primeval forest on the theme of the origin of life. In 2015, he published A Life With Camera, a wide-ranging retrospective of his work spanning more than 30 years. Mr. Ueda has been the curator of Gallery 916 since 2011.

Hiraki Sawa

Artist

The New Cosmos of Photography began accepting movies for the first time last year. The movie function is accepted as an integral part of a DSLR today (or should I say nearly anything we call a digital camera). In fact, the Canon EOS 7D, which went on sale in 2009, played a part in the development of my own works. The technology that allowed me, with a single button at my fingertips, to switch easily between photo and movie modes caused the simultaneous disappearance and emergence of forms of expression.
With the emergence of the movie mode, photographers no longer necessarily require the skill to click the shutter and capture the exact instant of interest. And perhaps the real essence of expressions that pass through the camera ends up being how the artist treats the image. We push forward, exploring unforeseen possibilities in this new cosmos of photography. Borders between the many techniques of expression–from stills and images developed on paper to photo books, images without physical form and movies– have been blurred, and there is great potential in that uncertainty.
I'm looking forward to encountering works that cannot be expressed in words, that cannot be compared with technology, and that are not prisoners to any media or technique.

Profile

He was born in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1977. He received an MFA from the Slade School of Art at University College, London in 2003. His 2002 work Dwelling earned an East International Award in the Young Artist Category. He has participated in numerous international group exhibitions, including Biennale de Lyon (2003 and 2013), Yokohama Triennale (2005), the Asia Pacific Triennial (2009), and the Biennale of Sydney (2010). He has had solo exhibits: Lineament, in 2012 at the Shiseido Gallery, and Whirl, in 2012 at the Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Gallery. He also had his first large-scale Japanese solo exhibit Under the Box, Beyond the Bounds in 2014 at the Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery. He is participating in ‘Reborn-Art Festival (Ishinomaki, Miyagi), Sapporo International Art Festival (Sapporo, Hokkaido), Oku-Noto Triennale (Suzu, Ishikawa). The videos and video installations he has produced express a creative space and fascinate the viewer. He currently resides in London.

Tomoko Sawada

Artist

Ever since I started taking photos, it was my dream to win an award at the New Cosmos of Photography. The first time I entered however, I didn’t win anything, but my second entry picked up an award. Winning an award naturally gave me more confidence and courage to carry on with my later work, but the entire process of putting together, completing, and submitting my work was a great learning experience in itself. I’m hoping for works free of déjà vu, works that share a vantage point on creative values and unique worlds. So please get down to work and send in your best stuff.

Profile

She was born in Kobe City in 1977. She completed studies as a photography class research student at Seian University of Art and Design. Since her student days, she has developed works on the theme of the relationship between one’s inner life and outward appearance through self-portrait techniques. Her debut work ID400 was recognized with an Honorable Mention Award at the 2000 Canon New Cosmos of Photography. She received the 2004 Kimura Ihei Memorial Photography Award and The Twentieth Annual ICP Infinity Award for Young Photographers from the New York International Center of Photography, among others. Her work has been exhibited around the world. Publications include illustrated books, as well as collections of photographs.

Minoru Shimizu

Photo critic

“True-to-life.” “Natural.” “Savage.” Such abstract, ad-copy-like expressions that untrained observers of photography irresponsibly spit out have no currency. Even if their ability to take photos about photography and to observe photography is recognizable, it is meaningless to merely refer back to the history of photography. Please be aware that those works which rely on context for their profundity – whether the death of a blood relative, the death of a lover, or a great earthquake disaster – almost always automatically become part of a dreary continuum of uniformity.
Please single out your ideal subject, not your familiar acquaintances. And please show me your thought-out photos, your discovered photos, not your off-hand photos.
Digital technology continues to open up unknown realms in digital photography, which has already parted ways from just “not being” analog photography. Expressions that connect such unknown realms to the future and to the past, expressions that make me rediscover photography, those are the expressions I’m waiting for.

Profile

Since 1995, Minoru Shimizu has developed his work as a critic focusing on modern art, photography, and modern music, and he has contributed essays and commentary to exhibition catalogs and photo collections in Japan and abroad. In recognition of his work, he received the Shigemori Koen Photo Criticism Award for his 1995 publication The Photographic Invisible: James Welling (Wako Works of Art, 1995). Some of his major books include Shashin to Hibi [Days with Photographs] (Gendai Shichoshinsha, 2006), Hibi Kore Shashin [Daily Photographs] (Gendai Shichoshinsha, 2009), and Pluramon (Gendai Shichoshinsha, 2011). Currently, he serves as a professor at the Faculty of Global and Regional Studies at Doshisha University.

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