Eggleston Picks Ben Lowy’s Iraq Project for CDS/Honickman First Book Prize
Benjamin Lowy’s project on Iraq has won the fifth Center for Documentary Studies/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography.
Lowy will receive a grant of $3,000, the publication of his book, and inclusion of his images in an online exhibition.
The judge for this year’s CDS/Honickman First Book prize was photographer William Eggleston. Eggleston said of Lowy’s photos, which were shot through the windows of a Humvee and through soldiers’ night vision goggles, “Benjamin’s work is an opportunity to see as an American soldier sees when in Iraq–no one’s ever shown that, especially through night vision goggles.”
“Yeh, that was nice, wasn’t it?” Lowy said today, when contacted at home in New York by PDN. Lowy, who is represented by Reportage by Getty Images, had returned from Afghanistan just 3 days ago, when he learned that his images of the Gulf oil spill had won a first place in the World Press Photo competition.
Lowy first photographed Iraq through the protective glass an armored car in 2005, when he was moving around the country in a convoy of armored vehicles. “My only view of Iraq was through inches-thick bulletproof glass,” he wrote in his application to the prize. He also made images through military-issue night vision goggles, which he attached to his camera “by means of duct tape, dental floss and, occasionally, chewing gum.”
The work has been exhibited at the Open Society Institute, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and elsewhere, but he had been unable to land a book deal, Lowy says. He hopes it can find an audience outside “art circles and anti-war circles,” Lowy says.
“It can appeal to people on the left and the right,” he says. “The work is esthetically different. That can overcome and bridge the public’s apathy. They see something different, and then they take a step closer. That’s a journalist’s challenge: trying to create a different way of showing something so people are interested.”
Photo © Benjamin Lowy/Reportage by Getty Images