The Deutsche Börse Photography Prize is one of the most prestigious in Europe and the four shortlisted photographers have just been announced.
Most interesting of the group is Jacob Holdt – a little known 60 year old Danish photographer. Beginning in 1970, Holdt spent five years hitchhiking across the US, living with and documenting the lives of the people he met - from sharecroppers to wealthy families. Holdt was not particularly interested in photography as anything other than a means of expressing his shock at the conditions he found in America. Yet as his images reveal, he was an extraordinarily gifted photographer. (Think William Eggleston, Robert Frank, Donna Ferrato, and Nan Goldin!)
In 1977 selections from his travels were published in a book titled “American Pictures”, but after a Byzantine plot by the KGB to use the book as pro-communist, anti-american propaganda was uncovered, Holdt hired a lawyer to stop publication of the book all over the world.
Since 1991, Holdt has worked as a volunteer for CARE in numerous third-world countries while maintaining one of the more eccentric and image laden websites. A book, “United States 1970 – 1975” was published by Steidl this summer, and is listed on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but I have yet to see a copy in any store.
Jacob Holdt on his travels around America circa. 1972.
After church in South Carolina.
15 year old unwed mother.