On 16 March 2016, Charles C. Bergman, chairman and CEO of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, announced the establishment of the Pollock Prize for Creativity, honoring an outstanding artist whose work embodies high creative standards and exemplifies the impact of art on individuals and society. Given on a yearly basis, the Pollock Prize carries a cash award of $50,000 and the recognition of the organization safeguarding the artistic legacies of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner.
The recipient of the inaugural Pollock Prize for Creativity is South African photographer Gideon Mendel. Born in Johannesburg in 1959, Mendel first came to prominence as a “struggle photographer” during the final years of apartheid. After moving to London in the early 1990s, he expanded the range of his subject matter to include the lives of people with HIV/AIDS in Africa and elsewhere (A Broken Landscape; Framing AIDS) and the effects of climate change (Drowning World). In his on-going project Through Positive Eyes, he has served not as a photographer but an enabler, handing the camera to people living with HIV so they can show their own reality.
His work has been exhibited in numerous gallery and museum shows (including the ICP Triennial in New York) and published in magazines including National Geographic, Rolling Stone, L’Express, Stern, The Sunday Times Magazine and The Guardian Weekend Magazine. Among the honors he has previously received are the Eugene Smith Award for Humanistic Photography and the Amnesty International Media Award for Photojournalism.
Charles Bergman said, “I am deeply grateful to our president Samuel Sachs II, our executive vice president Kerrie Buitrago and our program director Caroline Black for developing this new initiative, which carries forward the Foundation’s mission.”
Gideon Mendel said, “It’s a huge honor to receive this award named after Jackson Pollock, an artist I’ve always loved for his freedom in breaking barriers. Because my own work increasingly straddles the border between art, documentation and activism, it’s all the more important to me that the prize is given not for photography but for creativity in general. For the past nine years, the Drowning World project has been an all-consuming labor of love — an incredibly complex and expensive labor. I am deeply grateful to the Pollock-Krasner Foundation for recognizing the project through this prize, which will help me immeasurably in bringing Drowning World to completion.”
The Foundation’s President, Samuel Sachs II, said, “I congratulate Gideon Mendel, who creates powerful images and uses his art to raise awareness of critical issues and encourage change. It is with appreciation that we confer on him the first Pollock Prize for Creativity.”
His exhibition “Drowning World: Gideon Mendel” will be presented from May 13 to October 16, 2016, at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. Gideon Mendel is represented by Axis Gallery in New York.
Read more on the Drowning World series.
edited from artdaily