Art and About Africa team virtually spoke to Benjamin Füglister, founding director of CAP Prize. The international contemporary African photography prize is currently presenting the 2019 CAP Prize winners exhibition at Tempelhof Airfield in Berlin, Germany during the Berlin Art Week.
AAAA: Tell us about you and your role at the CAP Prize?
BF: I am an artist and cultural entrepreneur. In my artistic practice, I question social conventions and explore their visual transformations. My particular interest is photography as a medium for visualising the shifts in the human image.
I am the founding director of the CAP Prize also engaging as one of the 25 jurors annually.
AAAA: Tell us about the CAP Prize, how did it start? When did the first edition take place?
BF: When the CAP Prize – The International Prize for Contemporary African Photography was launched in 2012, African photography was hardly visible in the international art circus. Just a few internationally oriented initiatives like Lagos Photo Festival, Addis FotoFest or Afrique in Visu started to put Contemporary African Photography on the global art map at a larger scale.
The call for entries to the first edition of the CAP Prize was triggered by researching African photography for an art magazine. From the second edition onwards, the annual Prize aimed to be a platform to promote photography which engages with the African continent and its diaspora beyond the single image in news media.
AAAA: Every year the five winners get the chance to exhibit in Photo Fairs at photography events around the world. How does the exhibition process work? Do you exhibit the photo series of the five winners or do you include other short-listed works as well?
BF: The CAP Prize is an exposure award creating visibility for the winning artists. The awarded five photo series are equally treated and are exhibited in large scale outdoor exhibitions in public space. We wish for a broad audience to engage with African photography.
AAAA: How many entries did you receive in 2020? Are the 54 African countries well-represented or can you see any significant differences in participation between countries?
BF: We receive roughly 1000 applications for the CAP Prize annually. With this ninth edition, entries from all 54 African countries have been submitted over the years. Nations with stronger photography industries such as South Africa, Nigeria, or Morocco have higher numbers. Countries with smaller populations such as Mauritania, Gabon, or Cape Verde have lower numbers accordingly.
AAAA: Do you receive many submissions from photographers of the diaspora?
BF: The CAP Prize is directed at photographers of any age and decent. For the current edition, sixty-four percent of the applications are from African countries and thirty-six percent are from non-African countries around the globe.
AAAA: How does the selection process work for both jury and photographers?
BF: Applications accepted to the CAP Prize must comprise between 10 and 25 images and must work as a photographic series rather than a collection of random images. The works submitted cannot be older than three years. The photographers upload their images including a brief project statement to our website. The judges review the entries online. Judging the works according to theme, concept, realization and originality. The culmination of the points of all four fields results in a shortlist of 25 projects. The top five of the latter will be awarded with the CAP Prize.
AAAA: Tell us about your next exhibition in the framework of the Berlin Art Week at the scenic Flughafen Tempelhof in Berlin.
BF: All our planned exhibitions for the year including our IAF Basel – Festival for Contemporary Art had to be cancelled due to the current pandemic. We were excited when we got invited by Positions Art Fair in Berlin and Photo Basel – international art fair to present our CAP Prize 2019 winners exhibition at their scenic venue of Tempelhof Airfield in Berlin, Germany. It will most likely be the only public appearance for the CAP Prize this year and we are thrilled to be offered such a great platform. We will also announce the CAP Prize 2020 winners on 12 September at Photo Basel / Berlin, an event that will also be streamed on our Facebook page.
AAAA: Tell us about your next projects.
BF: We are currently preparing for the 10th edition of the CAP Prize, which will open for entries on 7 November 2020. Along with the CAP Prize 2021, we are working on a 10th-anniversary book representing the Prize as well as 50 up and coming photographers from the African continent.
On September 12th the winners of the 2020 edition will be announced.