Carrie Mae Weems is first black woman to be named Hasselblad Award Laureate

Since 1979 when the Hasselblad Foundation was formed to honor Hasselblad founder, Victor and his wife Erna Hasselblad, the Hasselblad Laureate has become one of the most prestigious photography awards in the world. 

History was made for the second year in a row when Carrie Mae Weems became the first black woman to be named the Hasselblad Award Laureate for her photographic work exploring the struggle for equality experienced by African Americans.

Previous Hasselblad Laureates include American landscape photographer Ansel Adams, and self-portrait photographer Cindy Sherman. Last year's winner Dayanita Singh also made history by becoming the first South Asian woman to ever win. Often considered the “Nobel Prize” of photography, the Hasselblad Award recognizes major achievements in the art and photographic community through thought-provoking, emotive bodies of work. 

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For more than 40 years, Carrie May Weems's contributions to photography have been grounded in the struggle of African American people but her artistic vision isn’t wholly tied to photography. Weems also uses video, performance, art installations and social practice to examine the traditions of black people and her own response to particular events in history where African Americans have experienced violence and discrimination. 

(Image credit: Rolex:Audoin Desforges)

Best known for one of her earlier projects, The Kitchen Table Series, Weems created a selection of staged images exploring female identity and experience through stereotypical female roles. Aimed to act as a voice for African American women and women in general, this powerful series was the beginning of a thought-provoking photographic career. 

As well as earning the coveted Hasselblad Award Laureate title, Weems is also the recipient of the latest Hasselblad camera and Hasselblad lenses - plus a cash prize of around $193,000 / £155,000. Bronius Rudnickas, Hasselblad’s marketing manager said, “We are inspired by Carrie Mae Weems's impactful contributions to the art of photography.” 

Hasselblad Award Laureate gold medal

The Erna & Victor Hasselblad Gold Medal that Carrie Mae Weems will receive at a ceremony in October 13 2023 (Image credit: Hasselblad Foundation)

The Swedish luxury camera brand has been making some of the best medium format cameras since 1941 and is world-renowned for its craftsmanship. With awards such as the Hasselblad Award and Hasselblad Heroines which recently announced it’s taking public nominations for the first time. Hasselblad doesn’t just manufacture beautiful cameras, it inspires and celebrates photographers around the world to think outside the box, be proactive and make positive change through their photographic pursuits. 

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.