The Netherlands Fotomuseum presents work by 9 nominees for the Somfy Photography Award 2020

Press release, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, October 2020

The Netherlands Fotomuseum presents work by 9 nominees for the Somfy Photography Award 2020

The award ceremony will be held on 23 October 2020

Between 2 October and 6 December 2020, the Netherlands Fotomuseum will present the Somfy Photography Award 2020, featuring work by nine shortlisted photographers: Roderik Henderson, Géraldine Jeanjean, Stephan Keppel, Matthieu Litt, Antoinette Nausikaä, Martine Stig, Dustin Thierry, Maarten Tromp and Jordi Ruiz Cirera. The Somfy Photography Award is a biennial, international photography competition offering professional photographers the chance to create new work on a specific theme selected in advance.

Nine candidates were nominated in November 2019. Over the past months, those candidates have created new work based on the theme ‘Gimme Shelter’. Now, the work they have produced for the Award has been brought together for a group exhibition in the Netherlands Fotomuseum. From that work, an international panel of experts will pick the winners of the first and second prizes – fifteen thousand and five thousand euros respectively. Each photographer was allotted a budget of two thousand euros to create new work. The winners will be announced on 23 October 2020 in the Netherlands Fotomuseum.

‘We are delighted to stage the results of the Somfy Photography Award 2020 on our home ground’, Birgit Donker, Director of the Netherlands Fotomuseum, said. “The photographers have the chance to create unique work with the working budget they receive. And now they can present that work to the public too. Somfy and the Netherlands Fotomuseum hope, with this initiative, to contribute to the development of proven talent.”

The nominees for the Somfy Photography Award 2020 © Bas Losekoot
From left to right: Géraldine Jeanjean, Jordi Ruiz Cirera, Matthieu Litt, Maarten Tromp, Martine Stig, Stephan Keppel, Antoinette Nausikaä, Roderik Henderson and Dustin Thierry.

The Somfy Photography Award is Somfy’s means of expressing the company’s contribution to people’s comfort and well-being in an inspirational, creative way.

Somfy, a company with an international presence, produces innovative, technical products that control the use of sun and light management inside buildings, ensuring the comfort of the people who use them. The human factor is always the main focus of the design, manufacture and application of that technology. By setting up the Somfy Photography Award and establishing a partnership with the Netherlands Fotomuseum, Somfy has created a means of showcasing international photography that contributes to the development of photography in the Netherlands.

Exhibition and announcement of the winners
An international panel of experts consisting of Frits Gierstberg (chair), Menno Kooistra (architect with De Tank), Dana Lixenberg (photographer), Thomas Seelig (curator/head of the photographic collection of Essen’s Museum Folkwang, Germany), Stephan Vanfleteren (photographer) will announce the winners of the first and second prizes on 23 October 2020.
The announcement will be made in the Netherlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, where the work by all the nominees will be on display between 2 October and 6 December 2020 in the exhibition ‘Somfy Photography Award 2020 / Gimme Shelter’.

About the theme ‘Gimme Shelter’
The theme chosen for the 2020 edition of the Somfy Photography Award is ‘Gimme Shelter’: ‘Shelter’ is a universal, all-encompassing basic need for both humans and animals; it means protection, a roof over our heads, safety and solace. ‘Shelter’ is not only visible as a structure for factories, offices, schools and hospitals, the term includes the cardboard box of a homeless person, a lovers’ embrace, the way a mother cherishes her child. Somfy provides ‘shelter’ in buildings by supplying comfort, well-being and sustainability.

The nine nominees

Roderik Henderson (NL) has portrayed a young woman sitting on a slab of rock in the desert at the foot of the Andes mountains in northern Chile. Henderson’s photographic work is 3 dimensional. The series visualises the experience of the physical contact between the young woman and the harsh, prickly landscape.

Géraldine Jeanjean (NL) focuses on the physical and symbolic function of glass as a separation between inside and out, safe and unsafe.

Stephan Keppel (NL) has turned his photographic and printing skills to an exploration of a former atomic shelter, ‘Vondelbrug (Brug 200)’, a remnant of the Cold War. These days, the ‘Vondelbunker’ is a venue for musical performances, debates, political action and visual art events. Keppel photographed the graffiti and slogans underneath the bridge (in itself a ‘shelter’) and has used the images to create new, powerfully graphic work.

Matthieu Litt (BE) explores a zone called the Ry-Ponet along a minor river in the metropolitan region of the Belgian city of Liege. This green lung is a symbol of resistance and serves as a refuge for humans and animals.

Antoinette Nausikaä (NL) chose the river Seine as it runs through Paris as her field of operation so she could visually evoke a feeling of shelter and the connection with nature that the Seine originally brought to the city.

Martine Stig (NL) centres on ‘invisibility as a human right’. How do computers see us, do they read us? Are they prejudiced? Can we fool the machine?

In this series of female photographers of colour, Dustin Thierry (NL) portrays one of the most marginalised groups whose existence is denied by society in general and the photography scene in particular. In the current debate about diversity – or rather, the lack of it – in our society and in the photographic sector, an oft-heard claim is: ‘we couldn’t find them’. This work demonstrates the opposite of that, seen from an extremely intimate perspective and aims to turn a preconceived rarity into a celebration of inclusivity.

Maarten Tromp (NL) has produced a series of portraits of primates in rescue centres in the Netherlands, Spain and Indonesia. How do we, mankind, relate to the world we live in? And what do the portraits say about the way we look at these animals?

Jordi Ruiz Cirera (ES) is based in Mexico and takes photographs of migrants and refugees from South America making their way to the United States. A journey that is becoming more and more dangerous due to the strict border policies. The United States have, in effect, outsourced their border policies to Mexico, so all those groups become stranded on their final stretch. And then all they can do is wait and wait. His series focuses on the reality faced by migrants, refugees and deportees who seek protection across Mexico.

The Nederlands Fotomuseum is sponsored by:
Corporate partners:
Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science / Municipality of Rotterdam / Wertheimer Fonds / Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds / BankGiro Loterij

Corporate Partner Somfy Photography Award:
Somfy Nederland

Corporate partner collection:
Nationale Nederlanden

Contributions to the Collection Programmes in 2020-2021:
Mondriaan Fonds

Named funds:
Fonds Anna Cornelis

Nederlands Fotomuseum                                                  Opening hours
Wilhelminakade 332                                                            Tuesday to Sunday 11am-5pm
3072 AR Rotterdam, the Netherlands                               Please book a timeslot

Note to the editors
For more information about the exhibition and visual content, please contact:
Catelien van der Hoeven / 06-21587299 /

Nederlands Fotomuseum: visual stories that matter
The Netherlands Fotomuseum safeguards the Netherlands’ current and future photographic heritage and shares it with society. We always give photography a relevant, topical context. We collect and exhibit photography that reflects the world we live in, enriching people’s lives with visual stories that matter.

Press Release Somfy Photography Award October 2020