Images of an elderly woman hanging out her laundry during the Covid lockdown have won the prestigious 2022 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Award.
Two of Clementine Schneidermann’s portraits from her Laundry Day series documented her neighbor’s daily life in South Wales, while navigating quarantine.
She will receive £15,000 for her victory.
The judges praised the simplicity of the project, for “capturing the quiet mundanity of domestic chores”.
They said in a statement on Tuesday that the images “evoke a strong sense of stillness and calm, but perhaps also loneliness and isolation, despite the photographer’s proximity.”
They also praised the “unusual perspective” of the portraits, which are “close, but not close enough to see the sitter’s face”, creating “an intriguing play with the conventions of traditional portraiture”.
Second prize went to Haneem Christian for Mother and Daughter and Rooted, which explores queerness, transness and the importance of chosen family.
While Alexander Komenda won third prize for Zahid’s Son, a portrait that examines themes of post-Soviet identity and landscape in Kyrgyzstan.
The Wessing Prize is organized by the National Portrait Gallery in London. But due to its ongoing major development work, the shortlisted photographs – chosen from 4,462 entries by 1,697 photographers – are featured in an exhibition at Cromwell Place, a new arts center in South Kensington, from October 27 to December 18, 2022 .
“Create magic from the simplest moments”
The winner, Schneidermann, is a French photographer, living and working between Paris and South Wales.
As a social documentary photographer, she has a particular interest in communities.
She said her Laundry Day series was meant to “document micro-events that deal with the passage of time through the small moments of our daily lives.”
The photographer intended to capture the everyday by focusing on a daily task, noting how “the beauty of photography is to create magic from the simplest moments”.
His socially distanced portraits are part of a series of works taken during times of quarantine, self-isolation and nationwide lockdown brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
Schneidermann is the co-founder of Ffasiwn Stiwdio, a photography-based creative studio that creates programs with groups of young people.