The photography team Sebastian Wells (Germany) and Vsevolod Kazarin (Ukraine) were awarded the "German Peace Prize for Photography" by the City of Osnabrück and local paper manufacturer Felix Schoeller on Thursday evening, May 4. At the award ceremony in the Museumsquartier Osnabrück, Lord Mayor Katharina Pötter congratulated the photographers on winning the prize, which comes with 10,000 euros in prize money. Wells and Kazarin prevailed against top-class international competition from 98 countries with their work "Young People Photographed in Kyiv, April and May 2022".
The winners in the Felix Schoeller Photo Awards categories, each worth 5,000 euros, are Alain Schroeder, a Brussels-based photographer, with his series "Muay Thai Kids" in the "Photojournalism" category, Simone Tramonte from Italy with the series "New Paths to the Future" in the "Sustainability" category and Damian Lemański from Warsaw with "Children of Lunik IX" in the "Portrait" category.
The title of "Best Young Talent" in the Felix Schoeller Photo Awards went to Lisa Marie Asubonteng, a German-Ghanaian living in Berlin, for her work "The Holy Women." The Young Talent Award recognizes talented young photographers who are doing promising work with young talent.
The winning series as well as the works of the nominees of the two awards will be presented in an exhibition from May 5 to August 6 in the Museumsquartier Osnabrück.
For the third time, the city of Osnabrück has joined forces with Felix Schoeller to award the "German Peace Prize for Photography," which was launched in 2019. The initiators created the prize out of the city's special history. As the site of the Peace Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, Osnabrück understands its history as an obligation for peace policy commitment. In view of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine and the 375th anniversary of the Peace of Westphalia, the awarding of the Peace Prize is more topical than ever.
"Vsevolod Kazarin and Sebastian Wells are close to their generation in Kiev, present artists in their cooperation project and make civilians visible, as self-confident citizens of their city. On the one hand, the shock of the invasion speaks from their faces, but on the other hand, above all, the determination and resilience they show in the face of the threat," said jury chairman Michael Dannenmann, commenting on the jury's decision. "'They are documents of the emancipation of a courageous young generation that wants to defend the freedoms and rights it has won. They make clear how much freedom and peace belong together, they show how much both are endangered and how much both have to be fought for,'' continued internationally renowned portrait photographer Michael Dannenmann.
"Our company is directly affected by the war in Ukraine. Two Russian employees who were colleagues just a few months ago have been called up and fallen. That is why it is important to us to set an example by awarding the German Peace Award for Photography. We feel our commitment is an obligation and a matter of the heart," emphasizes Hans-Christoph Gallenkamp, CEO Felix Schoeller. "The German Peace Award for Photography is an important part of Osnabrück as a city of peace and shows that we can also set active signs for peace at the level of a municipality," adds Patricia Mersinger, Head of the City of Osnabrück's Department of Culture.
German Peace Prize for Photography for Sebastian Wells and Vsevolod Kazarin
In their work "Young People Photographed in Kyiv, April and May 2022," the two photographers Vsevolod Kazarin, a fashion photographer from Kyiv, and Sebastian Wells, a documentary photographer from Berlin, show the young generation of creatives in Kyiv who do not stop expressing their identity, marked by a coming-of-age full of revolutions, conflicts and war. Using the means of documentary photography and portraying the protagonists out of the situation and in their respective environments, the images are not just a style reportage, but a testimony of a historical moment.
In a moment of conflict and violence, artistic expression is their form of resistance against tyranny, war and oppression. Photography and self-expression through fashion are meant to manifest freedom by allowing imagination for a beautiful present and future, expressing emotions, creating dialogue, and holding up the pillars for artistic freedom in a war.
After the outbreak of Russia's war against Ukraine, Sebastian Wells decided to travel to Kiev and met Vsevolod Kazarin. Together they not only photographed as a team, but also founded soлomiya, a pannational artists' magazine published in both Germany and Ukraine and distributed worldwide.
Vsevolod Kazarin (born 2000) is an artist and photographer. He was born in the Luhansk region and grew up in a Kiev suburb, where he lives today. After graduating with a bachelor's degree in photography from the National University of Culture and Art in Kiev, Vsevolod Kazarin works on artistic, editorial and commercial projects. Since the beginning of the war against Ukraine, Vsevolod has not been able to stay away from the unimaginable aggressive violence taking place everywhere in his country. He tries to find ways to use photography as a visual language to reflect on this unspeakably cruel reality.
Sebastian Wells (born 1996) was born and raised in Berlin. As a member of the Berlin-based photographer collective OSTKREUZ, he works on commissions and his own projects as a documentary photographer. He studied photography at the Ostkreuzschule in Berlin, the University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld and the KASK School of Arts in Ghent and is a gallery artist at Galerie Springer.
Nominees of the German Peace Award for Photography 2023
Mattia Velati, Milan / Italy "Yemen: beauty on the edge of war".
After eight years of war, Yemen is in one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world. The second ceasefire between the Houthi rebels, who staged a coup in 2014, and the Saudi-led coalition-backed government ended in October 2022, and violence erupted again a few kilometers from Marib, the last city in the north of the country in government hands. Aden has become the de facto capital of the southern state of Yemen and is in the hands of the STC, a breakaway party. In the collective imagination, Yemen is a country torn apart by war and despair, but that is not all.
Marib and Aden are scarred by war, but in both cities life is slowly beginning to return to normal despite the fighting. Civilians crowd the streets, looking for places to gather and take their minds off a life that for years has brought so much suffering and divided or wiped out entire families. It is a story dedicated to the Yemeni people who seek serenity in a war-torn environment.
Yagazie Emezi, Lagos / Nigeria "Another Tale By Moonlight"
"Another Tale by Moonlight" is a reinterpretation of European fairy tales juxtaposing historical, cultural, environmental and contemporary socio-political realities of Nigeria. This series illuminates hidden narratives and the intertwined moral complexities of both cultures, while expanding the possibilities of visual storytelling beyond Western standards. "My identity as an Igbo woman, the intricate and complex web of my history, and the return to those early European fables and traditions of "Tales by Moonlight" are a personal exploration of my - and my country's - history," says Emezi. "Another Tale By Moonlight" addresses the problems and struggles of our past, present and looming future by exploring the ways in which these conflicts, visually reframed, can speak truth to power and action.
César Dezfuli, Madrid / Spain "Passengers"
"On August 1, 2016, 118 people were rescued from an inflatable boat adrift in the Mediterranean Sea, 20 nautical miles from Libya. One of hundreds of boats rescued from this migration route in recent years.
In an attempt to give a name and a face to this reality, to humanize this tragedy, I have portrayed the 118 people who were on board the same boat, minutes after their rescue. Their faces, their looks, the marks on their bodies.... reflect the mood and physical state they were in after a long journey that had already marked their lives forever.
But that was only the beginning of this project. I soon understood that the people I portrayed had no real identity. They were not themselves, but the result of a long journey in which their identity had been diluted in the mass. Over the past six years, I have been working to locate the 118 of them who are now scattered throughout Europe in order to understand and document their true identities," Dezfuli said.
Alyosha, Dusseldorf / Germany "Project Hope."
Bioisms seek and find new homes in the special schools and asylums of Ukraine. Brought through minefields, interrogations and hundreds of checkpoints, they give a light of hope to teachers and students, to those who are sick and tired, who are waiting for the end of home schooling and air alarms, who are waiting for the end of bombings, senseless violence and cruelty, who are waiting for the end of the shameful war.
14 Ukrainian special schools, neurological and nursing institutions adopted the fragile, transparent biofuturistic forms as a sign of future надiя (hope), peace, kindness and liberation from suffering.
The Jury "German Peace Award for Photography"
Michael Dannenmann is an internationally renowned portrait photographer from Düsseldorf, chairman of the jury of the Felix Schoeller Photo Award from the beginning and curator of numerous exhibitions.
Simone Klein is an Art Advisor as well as an independent and publicly appointed and sworn expert for photography in Cologne. She is a member of the Executive Board of the German Photographic Society (DGPh).
Cathérine Hug graduated in art history, computer science and journalism. Since 2013 she curator at the Kunsthaus Zürich. In 2019 as well as 2020, Hug was named to the list of Switzerland's Top 100 Women in Business, Science, Culture, Media, Digital and Startups by Women in Business magazine.
Hannah Schuh has been working as visual director at ART - Das Kunstmagazin since 2013. After studying photography at the Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, she began her training as a picture editor at DIE ZEIT. She worked as a freelance photographer and picture editor at ZEIT and Tempus Corporate.
Nils-Arne Kässens is director of the Museumsquartier Osnabrück. He was brought to the house at the end of 2016 with the concept "Museum as Peace Laboratory."
Ulrich Schneckener has been Professor of International Relations & Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Osnabrück since 2009. Since 2016, he has been Chairman of the Board of the German Foundation for Peace Research (DSF).
For more information, as well as all other award winners and nominees, please visit www.felix-schoeller-photoaward.com.
Museumsquartier Osnabrück Lotter Straße 2, 49078 Osnabrück www.museumsquartier-osnabrueck.de