Daria Tuminas
Curating & Production
Unseen Book Market and Dummy Award

Unseen Dummy Award

Unseen Dummy Award is a collaboration which started in 2012 between Unseen and Lecturis aimed at showcasing the work of exceptional artists and designers from around the world, giving them a chance to realise and publish their photobook dummy. The dummies are prototypes of prospective photobooks, the preferred alternative to printmaking for many independent artists testing the possibilities of their work.

Moritz Jekat (b. 1987, DE) won the Unseen Dummy Award 2019; his book, Non ya (None of your business), will be published by Lecturis in spring 2020. The runners-up of Unseen Dummy Award 2019 are: How like a leaf I am by Alexandra Baumgartner, and À la moindre étincelle (Just one spark, and everything could explode) by Laura Ben Hayoun.

Jury members 2019: Natasha Christia (Curator and Writer), Rebecca Fertinel (Winner Unseen Dummy Award 2018), Jenny Lindhe (Head, Photographs Collection & The Photobook Days at Landskrona Foto Festival), Paul van Mameren (Managing Director, Lecturis), Christina Töpfer (Editor-in-Chief, Camera Austria International). 


Facts 2019: 225 submissions 33 shortlisted 1 winner.

The shortlist:

Aladin Borioli, Hives, 2400 B.C. – 1852

Alexandra Baumgartner, How like a leaf I am

Alfredo Covino, Il Caso C / The C Case

Alla Mirovskaya, From Soviet Union, 1926—1928

Attilio Fiumarella, British Subject

Bharat Sikka, The Sapper

Camillo Pasquarelli, Monsoons never cross the mountains

Dan Gadsby, West of Aran

Filippo Maria Ciriani, Silent Canary

Ines Vansteenkiste-Muylle, Grits/Grids & Conversations

Izabela Jurcewicz, Body as a Negative. Sensations of Return

Jana Hartmann, mastering the elements

Jens Schwarz, Themmuns

Jérémie Jung, Pāri Mūriem

Jill Quigley, Funhouse

Ksenia Kuleshova, ABKHAZIA

Laura Ben Hayoun, A la moindre étincelle, c'était l'explosion (Just one spark, and everything could explode)

Vaste Programme: Giulia Vigna, Leonardo Magrelli, Alessandro Tini, The Long Way Home of Ivan Putnik, Truck Driver

Lucie Deluz, I come from a long line of men

Luise Jakobi, You can ask me everything

Mafalda Rakoš, A Story to Tell, or: Regarding Male* Eating Disorders

Marc Schroeder, ORDER 7161

Marije Aagje, Sculptured Figures

Masaru Goto, My Obsessions

Miguel Proença, The Buzzer

Moritz Jekat, Non ya

Pamela Dimitrov, 04 03 19 — 21 06 19

Richard Gosnold, It Starts With Silence

Ross Sawyers, The Future Isn't What It Used To Be

Ryuta Sakurai, HUMAN TRIP

Tadatomo Masato, Linger

Thomas Gauthier, Entre deux (Between two)

Tihomir Stoyanov, I Give You My Face Portrait

Quotes from committee members:

Iris Sikking: “The overall quality of the dummies was impressive. Most of the books’ maquettes could easily develop further and get ready for being published. Design and edit wise there were points to gain of course, but all in all the book format was generally cleverly used, and only in a few cases, a dummy was conceived just as a portfolio, not addressing the photobook as a form and medium. Choosing books for the shortlist was therefore not easy. We were searching for a synergy between the images/texts and the design and the interesting approach to a subject.”

Carel Fransen: “There was a fascinating variety, and I was surprised by how thoroughly produced most of the publications were. We managed to make a selection of bodies of work that show a variety of different types of projects and angles both on the themes and the book concept. This year there was a significant amount of very personal projects, often based on family stories and investigations. I noticed that for these subjects it is particularly hard to convey a more universal story that a broader audience can identify with.”

Daria Tuminas: “The process of selection was thorough. We discussed every single book that got at least one vote during the individual rounds of studying the books. Often there were cases when a similar story or approach was present across a few books. In these cases, we had to compare and discuss similarities and differences and make decisions based on the comparison. Quite a few submissions dealt with interracial relationships - be that of a mother and a son, of an adopted child and parents, different family members, friends or partners. This was a theme we hadn't come across in previous years and was interesting to see it recurring across the submissions. A lot of good books were about the untold parts of the history of the Second World War. Some books caused heated discussions - mostly when the books were so unusual that it was difficult to grasp them, but at the same time they kept us curious and attracted.”

Jury Statement:

‘Our selection process was determined by three core elements: the urgency and relevance of the subject matter, a strong formulation and structure, and how it would connect to its audience. The winning book, Non Ya, illustrates Jekat’s personal family history and their experience coming from multiple different countries to set up a new life in Berlin. As you flip through the pages you experience many different layers of family life, the intimacy and the difficulties. Through a deeply personal look at the realities of life as an immigrant, Jekat’s photobook creates a portrait of daily life in contemporary Europe. We all felt that the winning book became stronger the longer you looked at it. The combination of portraits and still lives adds depth to its narrative, depicting a new form of privacy that is inherently not private. The glossiness of the paper and pops of colour gives it a familiar, almost commercial, feel which contrasts to its raw and subdued imagery.’


Advice from Rebecca Fertinel, recipient of the Unseen Dummy Award 2018:

‘The nice thing about the prize is there is a lot of freedom to do your own thing throughout the creative and editorial processes. Along the way I discovered that it was very hectic to organise book launches and exhibitions, etc. I would advise the winner to take into account that you don’t just need to be a photographer, you also need to be a producer and take on other roles in the process. Being a winner entails a lot more than being an artist, there are a lot of other roles you need to fulfil.’

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