Johanna Maria Fritz is the winner of the German Peace Prize for Photography
The photographer from Berlin wins through against her international competitors: Saturday evening saw the awarding of the first ‘German Peace Prize for Photography’ to Johanna Maria Fritz.
The prize is the result of a joint initiative launched by the City of Osnabrück and the Felix Schoeller Group. Lord Mayor Wolfgang Griesert, Hans-Christoph Gallenkamp, CEO of the Felix Schoeller Group, and Michael Dannenmann, Head of the jury, presented the certificate to the photographer from Berlin. The German Peace Prize for Photography is awarded with prize money of 10,000 euros. With her work titled ‘Like a Bird’, Johanna Maria Fritz prevailed against projects submitted by top-class competitors from 43 countries around the world. The winning entry and the work of the nominees will be on view to the general public in an exhibition in Osnabrück’s Museum Quarter from 20 October 2019 to 8 March 2020.
Wolfgang Griesert, Lord Mayor of the City of Osnabrück, expressed his appreciation of the enormous engagement of the photographers from 43 countries who submitted entries for the ‘German Peace Prize for Photography’: The ‘German Peace Prize for Photography’ is a wonderful opportunity that ensures that we never lose sight of the concept of peace, even in troubled times.’ He also emphasised the special connections with Osnabrück, ‘The City of Peace’, and its numerous activities and events in the name of peace. ‘Up until now, there has been no comparable art award in Germany. With the German Peace Prize for Photography’, we have created a special format for addressing the subject of peace’, says Griesert.
The new culture prize as a commitment to the City of Peace
It is no coincidence that the new cultural peace prize comes from the City of Osnabrück. With the creation of the award, the initiators paid tribute to the special role played by the city in history. As the city in which the Peace of Westphalia was negotiated in 1648, Osnabrück understands its history as a commitment to engage in the politics of peace. This also applies to the cultural programme being developed for the city and beyond regional borders.
The German Peace Prize for Photography Exhibition, from 20 October 2019 – 8 March 2020.
The winning entry and the work of the nominees will be on view in an exhibition in Osnabrück’s Museum Quarter from 20 October 2019 to 8 March 2020. The exhibited works are all printed on Felix Schoeller photographic paper, some of which are in formats of up to 120 x 100 cm. The exhibition of the Peace Prize also breaks new ground in public space: In the bus shelters in downtown Osnabrück, the photos of the winners and nominees are presented to a broad public.
Both initiators of the ‘German Peace Prize for Photography’, the City of Osnabrück and the Felix Schoeller Group, stipulate that peace must not necessarily be exclusively defined as the absence of war. In view of this, the diversity of the works submitted was correspondingly extreme. ‘Like a bird’ is the title of the work by photographer Johanna Maria Fritz from Berlin that convinced the jury. Fritz shows the power that the traditions of the circus can develop for the everyday lives of people in various crisis-torn countries and regions. In her concept, she writes that the ‘…circus acts … reflect the absurdity of living on the front line between Hamas and the Israeli Defence Forces, … Circus schools show Afghan children an alternative path.’ The pictures show ‘… the age-old tradition of tightrope-walking in Northern Caucasus and a circus in Iran, where, despite the Islamic dictatorship, people can still find friends and have fun. … Under the title ‘Like a little bird’, a small boy tells his story of life with the circus. As Fritz says, ‘… this title simultaneously stands for the essence of the work.’
The jury’s reasons
‘The prizewinner has successfully depicted a universal joie de vivre that is insuppressible, even in the contexts of conflict and violence. On the one hand, the series impresses with the contrast between human creativity and diversity in the respective crisis contexts that refer to situations of conflict and violence that, in the pictures, serve only as a backdrop before which the artistes spread hope, wonders, joy and laughter. Seen photographically, it is an utterly peaceful work that expresses faint hopes and lends the political clown a voice.’
Officially, Johanna-Maria Fritz, born 1994, lives in Berlin – in reality, however, she is on the move the whole year round. She studied photography at the Ostkreuzschule, and has been a member of the agency of the same name since the beginning of 2019. Her work has been published internationally in numerous magazines and shown at exhibitions around the globe: not only in Australia, France, Germany and Switzerland, but also in China and the USA.