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MACK First Book Award 2020: The Shortlist

WINNER: ’45’ by Damian Heinisch

"Back in 1945, my grandfather disappeared from Gliwice in Upper Silesia along with countless other men. They were taken by train to a working camp in Ukraine. His grave is unknown and all that remains is a small diary he wrote throughout his deportation. In 1978, following a lengthy existential struggle and forced political unemployment, my father left Gliwice with his family to start a new life in West Germany. I understood that my family’s lives had been considerably influenced by forced immigration, and that trains had played a significant role in the process of resettlement. I began to respect the “forced” journeys of my family members while at the same time documenting my own. In the end, I embarked on three journeys. First the physical journey, holding my 35mm camera to my eye for hours on end. This led to the second journey into my developed films, where I started to extract human presence, confronting my findings and contrasting them on the page. The final journey led me into the virtual world, mapping the train tracks kilometre by kilometre. The sequence is strictly dictated by the chronology of the journey."


SHORTLIST

'Piccola Russia’ by Andrea Alessandrini

"'Piccola Russia' (Little Russia) is a photographic project which explores Valle Aurelia, a built-up area of Rome very close to Saint Peter’s Basilica, over the period 2013 - 2018.

During these years a shopping centre was built in the area, deeply changing the lives of its inhabitants. I focused on the details of these ongoing changes, on everyday life, on the traces of the past and the omens for the future."


SHIFTERS by Marta Bogdańska
 

"‘SHIFTERS' started as an archival research and a collection of articles about animal spies. Suspicious squirrels, spying dolphins, misidentified stork, nuclear lizards, photographer pigeons – all these animals were accused of spying and information about it appeared in mainstream media. I am investigating the use of animals as soldiers, spies, police, and kamikaze. I am interested in tracing back the historical chapters of animals in wars & espionage and analyzing the meaning of the term ‘agent’ itself: a spy but as well a subject doing action." 


Odsłonić by Maria Dabrowski 

"‘Odsłonić', shot in the years from 2014 through 2016, documents an intimate investigation into the roots of my family, which brought me to both Poland and Ukraine. I desired to create this photo book that would show the uprooting and the strong emotions of attachment and detachment within my family and myself.

In 2015 I decided to travel to Ukraine together with my mother. Here, my mother met her family members from her father’s side. This visit allowed both her and myself to connect with her father’s past for the first time."


Leaving and Waving by Deanna Dikeman

"For 27 years, I took photographs as I waved good-bye and drove away from visiting my parents at their home in Sioux City, Iowa, USA. I started in 1991 with a quick snapshot, and I continued taking photographs with each departure. I never set out to make this series; I took these photographs as a way to deal with the sadness of leaving." 


Stadt, Land, Fluss by Jonas Feige

"'Stadt, Land, Fluss;* is a photographic journey through Germany and the result of an internal debate between a romantic feeling of nostalgia and a factual interest in the history of my own country. This has led me to explore numerous places around Germany, searching for traces of its past and former visions of its future. I found myself fascinated with both the critical, dialectical thinking of the 1920s and the Romantic’s mythical idealization of Germany and the idea of home. * literally translates to ”City, land, river“; a German quiz game about geographical knowledge."⁠


Signs by the roadside by Miro Kuzmanovic

"My work, 'Signs by the roadside' - the title originates in the novelist Ivo Andric´s collection of notes - was shot in the newly created states of former Yugoslavia. It is in its entirety an exploration of the emotional weight of history and the relationship of the individual to the body politic by creating inventories of impressions - personal archives that question perception and the construction of memory. It is also an autobiographical account of leaving, returning, and searching for answers." 


What is the corner looking at? by Yura Kolomiets

"In ‘What is the corner looking at?’ my interest is in finding a connection between the myth-making and the urban space. I am not interested in architectural forms, for me this work is on a social plane. A visualization of architecture is just a symptom picture. In fact, the problem lies deep in the historical and cultural field."


[Architects, Pigeons] by Nina Perlman

"'[Architects, Pigeons]' is a meditation on life in the city: wandering, observation, and the necessity of finding connections. Building stanzas of images⁠—shot between 2013-2019, spanning Berlin, Leipzig, London, Milan, and New York⁠—often using diptychs of subtle shifts in time or architecture, or mirror-moments between individuals, my work draws a connection between the language of images and the language of poetry."


Handbook of a Town by Sara Vighi

"'Handbook of a Town' is about my town, famous as the birthplace of the national flag, for its communist past, its preschools and its food. In order to fully understand Reggio Emilia, I had to analyze it scientifically. I studied and wandered around its streets, but, most of all, I sampled, dissected, observed, catalogued and compared, as if I were writing a proper handbook of the town (and of my family)."