Photo: Part of the winning series 'Heroes' by Emeke Obanor, Nigeria

On Saturday evening, 2 October 2021, the winners of the fifth Felix Schoeller Photo Award were announced at a virtual award ceremony. Shirin Abedi, who was born in Tehran, won the title of ‘Best Work by an Emerging Photographer’ with her work ‘May I Have This Dance? In the category ‘German Peace Prize for Photography’, the Nigerian photographer Emeke Obanor convinced the jury of experts with ‘Heroes’. The works of the winners and all nominees will be on display at the Museum Quarter in Osnabrück from 3 October 2021.

The jury of experts led by the internationally renowned portrait photographer Michael Dannenmann selected this year’s winners of the Felix Schoeller Photo Award from over 600 entries from a total of 95 countries. The virtual award ceremony took place in the presence of the current Lord Mayor of Osnabrück, Wolfgang Griesert, and the CEO of the Felix Schoeller Group, Hans-Christoph Gallenkamp. It was streamed live from the Museum of Cultural History in Osnabrück’s Museums Quarter, and the nominees were connected.

German Peace Prize for Photography: Emeke Obanor with ‘Heroes’

This year’s German Peace Prize for Photography goes to the contemporary art and documentary photographer Emeke Obanor. In his work ‘Heroes’, the Nigerian shows girls kidnapped by the terrorist organisation Boko Haram who have managed to return to freedom. Although the girls were radicalised during their captivity, they have not lost faith and courage to fight for their education and thus a better future.

“With this outstanding work, Emeke Obanor shows us not only his hopeful heroines, but also their further path to a self-determined future in peace,” comments jury chairman Michael Dannenmann on the jury’s decision. “Heroes is a strong and impressive photo series that represents the German Peace Award for Photography in a wonderful and impressive way,” Michael Dannenmann continues.

Best Work by an Emerging Photographer: Shirin Abedi with ‘May I Have This Dance?’

Photo: Part of the winning series ‘May I Have This Dance?’ by Shirin Abedi, Germany

The jury awarded the title ‘Best Work by an Emerging Photographer 2021’ to Shirin Abedi. The photographer, who was born in Iran in 1996 and migrated to Germany at the age of seven, dedicates her poetic image series ‘May I Have This Dance?’ to the Iranian ballet scene, which stands up for self-determination, freedom and equality – in a country where, according to the law, immorality and fornication are the consequence of sensual dance. While the abolition of ballet during the revolution symbolised independence from the West, today dance stands for a generation’s longing for Western freedom.

Michael Dannenmann comments: “With her work ‘May I have this dance?’, Shirin Abedi shows us a piece of forbidden art from her home country. The poetic images tell a complex and powerful story of a young generation’s longing for freedom and creative self-realisation. Shirin Abedi’s ‘May I have this Dance?’ is a touching and magnificent work.”

“Winners & Nominees” exhibition from 03 October 2021 to 06 March 2022.

On 3 October 2021, the exhibition ‘Felix Schoeller Photo Award – Winners & Nominees 2021’ will open at the Museum for Cultural History in Osnabrück. The works of the winners and nominees in both categories will be on display there until 6 March 2022. All the works were printed on high-quality digital printing paper from the fine art paper brand CAPTURE X from the Felix Schoeller Group.