Samuel Fosso receives the PHotoESPAÑA Award for his capacity in experimenting with the photographic medium and his unique use of self-portraiture

His photographic work will be on show within the Official Section of PHotoESPAÑA 2018 in the exhibition An African Odyssey at the Fernán Gómez. Centro Cultural de la Villa which forms part of the carte blanche Players developed by Cristina de Middel

Coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of the PHotoMuseum in Zarautz, PHotoESPAÑA recognises with the Bartolomé Ros Award, the centre´s creator, Leopoldo Zugaza for promoting culture in the Basque Country

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The photographers Samuel Fosso (Kumba, Cameroon, 1962) and Leopoldo Zugaza (Durango, 1932) have been awarded the PHotoESPAÑA Award and Bartolomé Ros Award, respectively. These recognitions, the highest given by the Festival, honour the trajectory of great professionals in the field of photography and visual arts.

The PHotoESPAÑA Award recognises Samuel Fosso as one of the most outstanding representatives of contemporary African photography for his experimental approach to photography and his unique use of self-portraiture as a tool for denouncing issues relevant to the African continent.

Photographers who have been previously received the PHotoESPAÑA Award include: Cristina García Rodero, Harry Gruyaert, Paz Errázuriz, Ramón Masats, Bernard Plossu, Alberto García-Alix, Thomas Ruff, Graciela Iturbide, Malick Sidibé, Martin Parr, Robert Frank, Hiroshi Sugimoto, William Klein, William Eggleston, Helena Almeida, Nan Goldin, Duane Michals, Chema Madoz, Luis González Palma, and Josef Koudelka.

Samuel Fosso will open tomorrow at the Fernán Gómez. Centro Cultural de la Villa the exhibition An African Odyssey, a comprehensive retrospective of his most representative series from the 70s to the present. This exhibition forms part of the carte blanche Players, conceived by the National Photography Award winner a Cristina de Middel for PHotoESPAÑA 2018. In this exhibition, the Cameroonian artist questions the way matters such as colonialism, gender, and historical aspects of the African continent have traditionally been explained.

On the 20th anniversary of the Bartolomé Ros Award, this honour recognises the figure of Leopoldo Zugaza, “an extraordinary man and cultural promoter in the Basque Country who created 25 years ago the PHotoMuseum in Zarautz”.

This award, given by the legatee of Bartolomé Ros, recognises the contribution of a Spanish figure in developing photography in any of its  photography in any of its facets, be it as an artist, curator, historian, critic, or through any other direct connection with the medium. Juan Manuel Diaz Burgos, Cristobal Hara, Colita, Gervasio Sánchez, Carlos Pérez Siquier, Fundación Foto Colectania, Chema Madoz, Chema Conesa, Isabel Muñoz, Ricard Terré, Javier Vallhonrat, Marta Gili, Alejandro Castellote, Kowasa Bookstore, Joan Fontcuberta, Alberto García-Alix, Juan Manuel Castro Prieto, Ramón Masats, Cristina García Rodero, and Publio López Mondéjar are the past recipients of the Bartolomé Ros Award.

Biographies of awards recipients

Samuel Fosso. Born in Kumba, Cameroon, near the border with Biafra, which was then a de facto independent state of Nigeria. He grew up in this neighbouring country until he had to flee to Bangi in the Central African Republic in 1972 because of the Civil War in Nigeria.

He began making self-portraits to finish off his roles of film and he would send them to his parents and grandmother who had remained in Nigeria. As Fosso became aware that he could express himself with his body, his self-portraits would become the objective of his work in and of themselves. In them, he wears costumes, characterise other peoples, and transforms himself to express feelings and emotions. Little by little his work has evolved from a more personal perspective to a more social stance, and recently reveals a historic commitment by emulating African leaders.

For a comisión by Tati magazine, Fosso created a series of self-portraits that reflected the African society of the 90s with a very personal take: The Boss (who sold Africa to the colonists), The Emancipated American in the 70s, and The Bourgeois. While they are seemingly colourful and fun, these photos have a social and political implication that was until then inexistent in Fosso´s work.

So began the artist´s historic commitment that reflected in his most recent body of work: African Spirits. Fosso characterises himself as Malcom X, Martin Luther King, Mohamed Ali, Angela Davis (a Black Panthers militant), Sékou Touré (the first president of Guinea-Conakry), etc..., «legendary figures that have marked the intelectual and political course of Africa». With these self-portraits, Fosso creates iconic representations and «remits to the pan-Africanists dreams of the times preeceding the independence».

Leopoldo Zugaza (Durango, Bizkaia, 1932) editor, historian, and cultural promotor, Leopoldo has initiated innumerable cultural projects and has been a key figure in the development of cultural initiatives in Basque Country. Founder of the Book Fair of Durango in 1963 and notable contributor to the development of the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, the government honoured him with a Gold Medal in Visual Arts in 2016.

He developed and directed the Museo de Arte e Historia de Durango and founded 25 years ago the Photomuseum in Zarautz. This institution committed to promoting the history of Spanish photography is dedicated to the research and dissemination of the art and technique of photography, as well as early cinema.

Zugaza conceived and launchd the Museo de Euskal Herria in Gernika, and has served as the vice president of the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, where he introduced photography exhibitions. He has directed Crónicas de Arte; Gaiak, a magazine about art and literature; Zubizabal; Archivos de la Fotografía, and Ikuspen, a magazine about visual communication. He organised Billera’ 87, International Photography Symposium in Durango, as well as Arteder, Contemporary Art Fair of Bilbao.

He was also director of the Culture Department of Caja de Ahorros de Vizcaya and vice president of the Patrons of the Museo Bellas Artes de Bilbao. He has chaired the Instituto Labayru, the Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País, Eusko Ikaskuntza, and the newsletter council of the Fundación ‘Sancho el Sabio’. In addition, he was co-founder of the first company dedicated to arts management in the Basque Autonomous Community, Ikeder,s.l.

As an editor, he founded in Zarautz during the 90s Olerti Etxea (The House of Poetry), a project to promote literature. Furthermore, he created the Instituto Bibliográphico Manuel de Larramendi and the magazine De re bibliographica. He carried out the First Bibliography Congress in Zarautz in 2011. He currently chairs the Instituto Bibliográphico Manuel de Larramendi and publishes the magazine De re bibliográphica and the newsletter for the Programa de Estudios Vasco-Americanos.

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