Aperture Awards 2007 Portfolio Prize to Jessamyn Lovell

Lovell Christmas 1999.gifYou 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.