REPLY RECEIVED FROM THE JURY
Mar 24, 2017 — Statement of the Jury
We acknowledge the receipt of a petition protesting the award of the Foam Paul Huf
Award for 2017 to Romain Mader, an award made largely on the strength of his “Ekaterina” project.
“Ekaterina” takes on a fraught subject—the exploitation and commodification of women in Eastern Europe—in an unexpected manner. It makes no claim to be a work of documentary or journalism, and one of its key points of interest is in fact the way it draws on a wide variety of real sources and places to create a fictional terrain. The five members of the jury found the project visually compelling, skilfully photographed, and both provocative and unsettling. Mader took on the risk of exploring complex material with a satirical approach. In this satire, the main target was Mader himself, in the role of the foolish and oblivious Western European. By frequently placing himself in the images, he self-indicts in what might be misread as a stereotypical vision of sexist behavior. The productive discomfort in Mader’s work comes out of the way the seriousness of the material and the levity of the approach contradict each other.
While we accept that Mader’s work is not for everyone, we the members of the jury also respectfully suggest that not all art has to be subject to broad consensus. Most of the art all of us care about invites disagreement. The work of the shortlisted photographers was extensively and rigorously debated. The jury was unanimous in its decision to honor Romain Mader.
Chair and Members of the Jury
The Foam Paul Huf Award, 2017