The award is named after Austrian Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Alfred Fried, with the main prize worth 10 000 euros. It went to German photographer Helena Schätzle for “Devoted to Life”, a portrait series of holocaust survivors in Israel. The international jury praised Schätzle’s sensitive approach to “capture late moments of consolation, tenderness and intimacy in the lives of those who have been stalked by a horrific history, late moments of happiness in a traumatized life after survival”.
In her welcome address, Doris Bures, President of the Austrian National Council, speaking to a 250 strong audience, recognized the Alfred Fried Award as “an event which is gaining significance” in times in which “the longing for peace is growing all over the world”. Bures said it was “infinitely painful” that the international community still has not managed to ensure that the war in Syria is ended.
As in the previous year, the keynote speech was held by a current Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Tunisian Abdessattar Ben Moussa, President of the Tunisian Human Rights League, which received the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize as a member of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, demanded to make peace “a human right”. A “culture of peace” should become an “educational subject in all the schools”. However, today the countries all over the world are still spending more on wars than on peace. Not least the veto right conferred to the Security Council of the United Nations would prevent peaceful solutions.
On behalf of the International Press Institute, Mazen Darwish, a Syrian activist for the freedom of the press and of speech, commemorated journalists and photographers killed on duty in the past year. Accused of terrorism for his reports on human rights violations in his home country and only released from Assad’s prisons in 2015 after international protests, he reminded the audience that at least 69 journalists lost their lives between September 2015 and September 2016. It was those who had tried to bring home the stories of the victims of wars. Historians usually pay tribute to the victors. However, it was more important to show the other side.
This year’s jury was headed by Rolf Nobel, long-standing professor of photography at the University for Applied Sciences, Hannover. In his eulogy he stressed that “if it is the task of a medium like photography to present all themes of human existence, then it is extremely important to balance the floods of war images with images of peace. All the greater my pleasure then that the Alfred Fried Photography Award has developed such a great appeal in just four years“.
Lois Lammerhuber, publisher, photographer and initiator of the Alfred Fried Award, pointed out that “with the invention of smartphone photography, a cultural revolution has set in that introduces a completely new era of understanding the world. And this understanding is being communicated non-verbally, via images. If, with the simple question “What Does Peace Look Like?”, we succeed in planting a seed of visual reflection in the hearts and minds of people, then this photo competition can contribute to make the world just a little bit better.
Entries to the Alfred Fried Photography Award 2016 ran to a total of 16 883 pictures by photographers from 127 countries. The jury included photographers, photo journalists, newspaper editors, representatives of photographic associations and of UNESCO from Austria, Germany, France, Norway, Finland, China and the US. In addition to the main prize for Helena Schätzle, they awarded four Alfred Fried Photography Award Medals to:
Dutch photographer Chris de Bode, for I Have a Dream, a series on dreams of the future by children in countries like Haiti, Liberia, Uganda, Mexico and India.
Kashmir-born photographer Altaf Qadri for School For The Less Fortunate, a black-and-white report about an improvised school for the children of the poor under a bridge in New Delhi.
Uzbek photographer Boris Register for Eclipse Time, a report on everyday life in the Russian provinces.
And to Turkish photographer Leyla Emektar for Peace And Tranquillity, the painted and photographed image of the dream of a carefree childhood.
Presenting the prize to Helena Schätzle, jury member Peter-Matthias Gaede recalled that he had published another work by Schätzle during his time as editor-in-chief of GEO magazine. Born in 1983 and now living in Kassel, Schätzle studied visual communication at the art school there from 2004 to 2009, going on to take a course in photo journalism at the University of Applied Sciences in Hannover. She is a member of laif photo agency, works as a freelancer for magazines, newspapers and human rights organizations, taught photography in India for several years and has won multiple awards, including the Canon Profifoto Förderpreis and one from Stiftung Buchkunst. Gaede said that what convinced the jury about Schätzle’s work was “the sensitivity and empathy of the photographer in capturing the emotions of survivors of the Shoah in her pictures”. Her photographs expressed the caution and at the same time the genuine interest of the young German as she entered a delicate area; one could see at once “her affection for the holocaust survivors and the affection she received from them”.
The Peace Image of the Year 2016 from Schätzle’s Israel series will be exhibited for a year above the entrance to the plenary of the Austrian parliament.
The winning images with captions:
Helena Schätzle, Germany: Devoted to Life
Boris Register, Russian Federation: Eclipse Time
Chris de Bode, Netherlands: I Have a Dream
Leyla Emektar, Turkey: Peace and Tranquility
Altaf Qadri, India: School For The Less Fortunate