The two winners of the 2022 Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA), the renowned international photo competition that was held for the 42nd time this year, have now been selected.
The winner of the main category of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award, was Iranian-Canadian Kiana Hayeri. Her project, the “Written on the Ice, Left in the Sun” series, was proposed by no less than three nominators. The winner of the Leica Oskar Barnack Award in the Newcomer category was German photographer Valentin Goppel, with his “Between the Years” series. His work was submitted by the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Hanover.
These two winning series and the finalists' photographic projects will be on display at the Ernst Leitz Museum in Leitz-Park Wetzlar, Germany, until January 2023.
After the withdrawal of Western troops from Afghanistan in the summer of 2021, it took only a few days for the Taliban to destroy all the achievements made in the areas of freedom of expression, women’s rights and education, and to instil fear and insecurity in their place. Kiana was born in Iran, in 1988, and brought up in Canada and has been living in Afghanistan for seven years now; her work centres, in particular, around the living situations of women.
Kiana Hayeri commented: “My work focuses on Afghan women; the same women who were put at the centre of war efforts to liberate them, shortly after the Americans invaded Afghanistan. Today, many of these women feel that they have been abandoned and left behind. Afghanistan is a place of extremes, where the best and the worst of humanity live side by side. Fear and courage, despair and hope, life and death coexist.”
After moving to Toronto from Tehran as a teenager, Kiana was faced with the challenges that come with adapting to a new environment, and she adopted photography as a way to bridge the linguistic and cultural divide. Her work often deals with complex subjects, such as migration, adolescence, identity and sexuality in war-shaken countries. In 2021, she was awarded the Robert Capa Gold Medal for her photo series “Where Prison Is Kind of a Freedom”, which documented life for Afghani women in Herat Prison. In 2020, she received the Tim Hetherington Visionary Award, and became the sixth recipient of the James Foley Award for Conflict Reporting. The photographer is a Senior TED Fellow, and writes regularly for The New York Times and National Geographic. Hayeri currently lives and works in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Young adults in times of Corona: The German photographer's series explores the pandemic's impact on his generation. He, too, experienced the sudden break away from habits, and the feelings of insecurity that seemed to define people’s plans and the future. Corona was like a catalyst for an ongoing sense of disorientation. Photography, however, offered Goppel a tool with which to better understand his thoughts and fears and enabled him to give a sense of forlornness in visual expression.
Valentin Goppel commented: “The pandemic was an exceptional situation for all of us. We were suddenly fighting against demons, which we had held back by means of familiar distractions. It is amazing how similar the experiences of these last years were for me and my friends – and yet, we all felt so alone. My state of limbo drags on.”
Valentin Goppel began to take portraits of his friends as a teenager. His first exhibition led to an apprenticeship with a photographer. He has been studying Documentary Photography in Hanover since September 2019. He has received his first assignments from publications, including Spiegel and Die Zeit. He is currently working on his first photo book about the feelings of youths.
Karin Rehn-Kaufmann, Art Director and Chief Representative Leica Galleries International has this to say on the announcement:
“Once again this year, we were impressed by the diversity and high quality of the series submitted; it was particularly delightful to see the many young participants, as well as the higher proportion of women photographers. An especially big ‘thank you' goes to our very professional jury, who always kept the human touch at heart -- as well as to all our dedicated nominators from all around the world.”
The winner of the LOBA receives 40,000 euros (roughly $39,200) and Leica camera equipment valued at 10,000 euros (roughly $9,800) the winner of the Newcomer Award receives 10,000 euros and a Leica Q2.