On February 2, London’s World Photography Organisation (WPO) announced that artist-duo RongRong & inri—from China and Japan, respectively—will receive Sony World Photography Awards’ Outstanding Contribution to Photography prize, to be presented on April 21, 2016. The pair will be honored for their innovative developments in traditional black-and-white darkroom printing techniques, as well as for their establishment of Three Shadows Photography Art Centre in Beijing in 2007, China’s first nonprofit space dedicated to photography and video art. According to Christopher Phillips, curator at New York’s International Center of Photography, Three Shadows Photography Art Centre “has done more to encourage the serious appreciation of photography than any other organization in China,” through its exhibition programming, conferences and annual awards for young Chinese photographers.
Commenting on their winning of the prize, the husband-and-wife team stated, “This award genuinely encourages us to put more efforts into the development of photography. We have faith in this career we choose and love.”
Reflecting on the duo’s impact on contemporary photography, WPO creative director Astrid Merget Motsenigos remarked: “RongRong and inri’s contribution to photography goes well beyond their extensive and exquisite production of still images. For over 15 years they have personally contributed to the industry as a whole, specifically within their community, creating venues and resources for artists to flourish. Their photography has captured the great intimacy they have shared over the years and presents their unique interpretations in critically acclaimed photo stories, collages and installations.”
RongRong & inri, who have been collaborating since 2000, are best known for their stark, black-and-white self-portraits that celebrate nature and the human body (“Mt. Fuji” series, 2001), as well as those capturing the changing urban landscape of Beijing (“Liulitun” series, 2003). As part of the award, an exhibition featuring the artists will be on view at London’s Somerset House (4/22–5/8), where they will showcase their latest series “Tsumari Story” (2012–14), inspired by the rural environment of the Echigo-Tsumari region of Japan’s Niigata Prefecture.
Established in 2008, the Sony World Photography Awards is considered the world’s largest photography competition and features competitions across various genres. Previous recipients of the Outstanding Contribution to Photography award include Eve Arnold, William Klein, Marc Riboud, William Eggleston, Mary Ellen Mark, Elliott Erwitt, Bruce Davidson and Phil Stern.
Sylvia Tsai is associate editor at ArtAsiaPacific.