You know Aperture. You love Aperture. And now Aperture is revealing who it loves. The foundation has just announced the winner of the first ever Aperture Portfolio Prize competition: Bay Area photographer Jessamyn Lovell for her project “Catastrophe, Crisis, and Other Family Traditions.” Four runners-up were also selected: Ian Baguskas (Brooklyn), Cynthia Greig (Detroit), Shai Kremer (New York City), and Tomoyuki Sakaguchi (Tokyo). Lovell receives $2,500, and all five photographers will have their portfolios featured on Aperture’s website for a year.
The prize was created to “identify trends in contemporary photography and specific artists whom we can help by bringing their work to a wider audience.” Lovell’s portfolio, created over the past decade, provides a glimpse into the life of a family (her family) in rural upstate New York. Her mother, confined to a wheelchair after a spinal injury, is shown holding (in various images) a shotgun, a Coke, and a dog, her expression in each frame inscrutably bewitching. The photos of the family at play–at a barbecue, in the kitchen, sunbathing, on the basketball court–have a stillness that is both calming and heartbreaking. Lovell truly manages to capture the chaos, and this is her goal:
My family has been a source of stress, frustration, anxiety, and guilt for many years….Through photographing the chaotic crisis of their everyday life, I feel somehow closer to them. The dynamic is strange: I love them, they love me, yet we can’t live with each other. There is a struggle I feel in wanting to be near my family but saving my sanity by detaching myself.