10th KASSEL DUMMY AWARD 2020 – The Winning Books

In total, 395 photobooks from 44 countries were sent in to the 2020 KASSEL DUMMY AWARD. The shortlist selection resulted in 47 photobooks.

Winners of the 10th KASSEL DUMMY AWARD 2020. Tofu-Knife by Kohei Kawatani (JP) / Rato, Tesoura, Pistola by Pedro Guimarães (PT) / The Land of Promises by Youqine Lefèvre (BE) / SPECIAL MENTION
SOKOHI by Moe Suzuki (JP)

Tofu-Knife by Kohei Kawatani (JP)
This is a brilliant exploration of the complex relationship between the artistic and commercial in contemporary photography. In its form and design, the photobook mimics both a scientific database – all photographs are clearly listed in the index and catalogued by numbers – and a customer magazine – the photographs are clean and polished, printed on a thin, glossy paper usually used in the advertising context. The depicted objects and environments are above all visually pleasing – lush vegetation, subtle textures, neat interiors, and alluring objects whose only decipherable function is the aesthetic one. Deliberate decontextualization reduces the images to ready-made objects, as well as foregrounding them the fluidity of their meaning, susceptibility to various creative interpretations. Even though Kawatani’s visual expression is decisive and sharp like a (tofu) knife, his photographs are only seemingly impersonal – his unexpected framing, attention to detail, and suggestive use of color hint not only at subjectivity but a certain delicacy, tenderness, and softness (similar, in a way, to tofu itself)
– Barbara Gregov, Organ Vida Festival, Zagreb.



Rato, Tesoura, Pistola by Pedro Guimarães (PT)
Rato, Tesoura, Pistola gathers together photographs by Pedro Guimarães, produced in collaboration with Nuno Engstrøm Guimarães (drawings, 7 years old) and Emma-Sofie Engstrøm Guimarães (monster pancakes, 5 years old). Sara Bichão kidly offered her masks that becomes part of a familiar entertainment revealing what an author can be, literally “one who causes to grow,” and not only in a parental relationship. Combining the drawings of his children together with portraits of them playfully or simply relating with the father’s camera, this photobook, designed by Dayana Lucas, is a manifold of experiences and artistic attitudes in which photography works as an intertwining element and where design strategies activate it as a device involving the reader himself in the game. As the title of the book suggests, “Mouse, scissors, gun”, and Pedro explains in the book presentation: “This is how we play together, how we pretend there is no such thing as the vast emptiness that keeps us apart during most days of our lives: 2500 km of land and water, to be precise, the sheer vastness of Europe. But most days is not all days of our lives, right?”. And the time we spend flipping through this book, opening the folds that constitute its very semantic structure, has the sweet and captivating flavour of the magic time described in Pedro’s book, shortening distances and creating magic worlds with the interaction of basic, but powerful elements.
– Chiara Capodici, Leporello Books, Rome.


The Land of Promises by Youqine Lefèvre (BE)
Youqine Lefèvre’s The Land of Promises is a graduation project from KASK, the School of Arts in Gent. Perhaps, one of the best ones I have seen in 2020. It is a very solid and professional work, and indeed a promise of an emerging talent. It tells a story of the artist herself who was adopted in 1994 by one of six Belgian families who went to China to a specific orphanage in order to adopt girls. The artist didn’t have her personal memory of this event, only the mediated one—through the stories and documents. The dummy comprises those documents and images of the time, as well as the photographs and research that Lefèvre produced between 2017 and 2019, looking closely at her own story, and at the birth policy and its consequences in China at large. Powerful photography. Modest and effective design of the book object. And a more than urgent subject. When I saw this application while selecting for Kassel Dummy Award 2020, it had a strong impact on me, we talked about it for a while with all the jury members, and there was quite a consensus that this book-to-be is of profound significance.
– Daria Tuminas, fotodok, Amsterdam.



SOKOHI by Moe Suzuki (JP)
Visual Ease Black is a handmade spiral-bound notebook made in the workshops of the social welfare corporation Tokyo Hikari, which are specialised in the manufacturing of handmade spiral notebooks. It has black pages, which is useful for people with low vision, but also attractive for artists and useful for technical drawings. SOKOHI is an artist book by Moe Suzuki, developed in a workshop with Yumi Goto, in 2019. To use the notebook made by blind people as the structural and metaphorical support to tell the story of the artist’s father, who suffers from glaucoma and is slowly losing his vision makes all the sense in the world. At least, in our world. Thanks to brilliant book-makers like Suzuki, the world of photobooks has become even more fluid, open and seamlessly integrated with the world of artists’ books today. SOKOHI, which holds personal notes and photographs of Tetsuichi Suzuki, disintegrates more and more towards the end, in a parallel process to his gradual loss of eyesight. His daughter tries to understand, and to show us what she feels that is going on behind her father’s eyes: At first tiny and few, then more and always bigger laser-cut holes appear in the pages, simulating the “blind spots” in the father’s visual field, and what the artist feels must be his inner life. A highly elaborate book that touches us in an intimate way, without asking for pity or sadness. Pure visual poetry at its best.
– Moritz Neumüller, Independent Curator, Barcelona.


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