The public Grand Prize selection meeting for the 2019 (42nd Edition) New Cosmos of Photography took place on Friday November 8, 2019 at the Tokyo Photographic Art Museum.
For this year's contest, we welcomed seven judges: Sandra Phillips (curator emerita at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art), Paul Graham (photographer), Yulin Lee (director at the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, Taiwan), Rineke Dijkstra (photographer), Noi Sawaragi (art critic), Mikiya Takimoto (photographer), and Takashi Yasumura (photographer). The judges selected seven Excellence Award winners and 14 Honorable Mention Award winners from 1,959 entrants.
At the public Grand Prize selection meeting, the seven Excellence Award winners — Natsuko Eguchi, Yusuke Endo, Daichi Koda, Hisashi Kobayashi, Ken Tazima, Tomomichi Nakamura, and Tamaki Yoshida — gave presentations and took questions from the judges. After the presentations, the judges conferred together and eventually selected Tomomichi Nakamura, selected by Rineke Dijkstra, as this year's Grand Prize winner.
The selection meeting kicked off on Friday November 8 at 2:30 p.m., amid a singular atmosphere of elevated expectation and nervousness. With tense expressions, the seven Excellence Award winners and Grand Prize candidates made their way to the podium and took their seats, after which the six judges (Sandra Phillips could not attend) took theirs. General Manager Junko Kimura of the CSR Division, Canon Inc., delivered the opening address.
The seven Excellence Award winners were given seven minutes each to make a presentation, in which they described in their own words the background to and the creative intent of their works, along with their thoughts about their works. After each presentation, the judges offered both praise and sharp criticisms of the works and posed questions to the candidates, who gave well-considered answers.
You can see the state of the meeting with movie.
After the presentations, the judges retired to a separate room for about an hour to deliberate and select the Grand Prize winner.
At the awards ceremony, Tomomichi Nakamura was announced as the 2019 Grand Prize winner. He received one million yen in prize money and, as a bonus prize, a new Canon EOS R mirrorless SLR camera.
On accepting his prize, Tomomichi Nakamura said: “I'm incredibly delighted to have my name recorded in the world of creative expressions. Although I am only partway along my journey, I sincerely hope to conceive and create new fusions and combinations with previous creative expressions to the extent my physical endurance permits.”
I'm very proud that the photographer I selected among the 1,959 entrants won the Grand Prize. I think the winning work skillfully expressed a very strong emotional connection. Mr. Nakamura's work of ants, which arose as a metaphor for his father's death, combines grief, a sense of loss, and many other emotions and visualizes them beautifully. I ask that you build your career and create more amazing works.
All the Grand Prize candidate works this year were entries from Japan, and all of them contained elements reflecting the situation Japan is in at the present time. Separation from family members, reminiscence, coexisting with a figure who is forgetting oneself. These themes will become firsthand issues for many people in the coming years. Looking at what kind of new creative expressions are emerging through photography in this context is, I believe, one indicator of the future.
Three of the candidates this year created works based on their relationship with a family member. I think that the revival of past memories, through separation or through a change in a pair's standing with each other, is a never-ending process. Mr. Nakamura's work contained a massive breadth of imaginative power and unexpected imagery, such as his childhood connection to ants and his relationship to them as their destroyer, which is counterbalanced by a vision of his powerless self being tread upon by a giant and reduced to an ant. It was a treat to decipher his work, and in this sense, I thought Mr. Nakamura's work was one step ahead of the other candidates.
Two other works that I felt reflected the current state of society were Mr. Tazima's photos of AMeDAS installations and Mr. Endo's treatment of the problems of technology — namely, social media and the surveillance cameras strung along our streets. An enormous problem for photography is technological progress that speeding past our acceptable limits. The appearance of themes like these was a notable characteristic in this year's contest.
Mr. Kobayashi created a work that dealt with his relationship with things that had lost a destination. Ms. Yoshida's work made us think about what sort of connection animals will have with humans in the future, and about how animals have survived amid natural disasters. The selections are the consequence of chance, but in one sense this contest was an opportunity for us to once again delve into the current state of affairs in the world and into the direction of photography.