The Denis Roussel Award was started in 2018 to honor the legacy of photographer and educator Denis Roussel and to highlight work done by photographers whose work is based on the historical/alternative photographic processes, including silver gelatin.
We would like to thank juror, author, and educator Christopher James who spent long hours reviewing the submissions. We know of no other competition where the photographers who enter are given care and handling in the way their work receives personal comments from the juror with observations and recommendations for future work.
Thank you to all of the photographers who applied for this award. The standard is set higher each year. We know the past few years has been very hard and we appreciate your interest in the Denis Roussel Award. It was very rewarding to see the wonderful work being submitted and to read your statements. We were introduced to numerous new artist and know many of you will be recognized in the years to come. Keep creating.
This year because of the generosity of Josphine Sacabo and the Roussel Family we have been able to continue the awards.
Thank you to the Roussel Family and Josephine Sacabo for your on going support of the Denis Roussel Award.
Thank you to the following individuals and businesses.
Carol Boss and Hahnemühle paper.
Mark Nelson for the Precision Digital Negatives eBook and the “Precision Digital Negatives” custom 31 step standardized film step tablet. Precision Digital Negative.
Bostick & Sullivan for a two hundred-dollar gift certificate.
Christopher James for his donation of a portfolio review.
Josephine Sacabo and Luna Press.
Statement from Christopher James
Over the last several years I have had the unique privilege of collaborating with Connie and Jerry at rfotofolio and serving as the juror for the Denis Roussel Award, experiencing
the deeply personal and expressive work that international artists, working in alternative photographic processes, have created in the spirit of Denis Roussel. As in past years, the focus of the work was very often inward, dealing with the visual interpretations of journeys through oneself. This continues to be the case… but a new wrinkle has been added, one that Denis Roussel would undoubtedly approve of, a blending of the self in concert with the
natural world, realized as a deep concern for the planet and attention to interpreting the stress of change upon it. As well, the embrace of simple, traditional and uncommon materials used in those expressions to give form to feelings… and an acceptance of
play in the creative process.
Last year in this overview I wrote, “One of the criteria that I used as a marker for my selections was respect for the essential spirit of Denis Roussel… a love of the natural world, finding muse-worthy inspiration in the humble and non-spectacular discoveries of simple observation… and a love of the hand-made image.” This sentiment is more accurate now than ever in this year’s entries and supported in the care and eloquence of each
person’s writing. It is uncommonly rare to provide a juror with written expressions of the artist’s concept and intentions in tandem with the work, and in my experience, only this annual Roussel award encourages the marriage of language and image, and I have done my best each year to reciprocate and respond with comments to each artist who took the opportunity to show their work and share their ideas and lives.
Contemporary image making is not about the technique used, the camera (or lack of one) you have, or the preference of digital or analog capture. Nor is it about the “artifact” that so often represents photography’s version of gesture that miraculously makes an image artistic. Photography today is deeply integrated into every aspect of our lives and cultures and its heartbeat is driven by a need to make sense of the time we are living in … and
our unsatiated curiosity to see how clearly we can express those things that are so dear to our soul.
As is the case in all juried exhibitions, the final selection is only a brief representation of a juror’s personal imaging preferences over several weeks of considering the work. Chosen selections are not, in any way, a rendering of judgment upon the artist who has taken
the risk of putting their work and themselves on the line. The Denis Roussel Award is unique in my experience. It allows for the opportunity of telling one’s story and relationship with the work. In the same moment, it allows the juror to respond to the equally important facets of each artist’s life that drives their studio practice. This special dynamic, the creation of Connie and Jerry Rosenthal gives permission to a special intimacy and this year, like last, it was an honor to share with you all. Thank you.
And now the award winners for the 2023 Denis Roussel Awards.
2023 Denis Roussel Award
“I love this work for all of the languages it is speaking and for the obvious love of the craft on display. In a contemporary context, your work is profoundly emotional, lighter than air,
moisture laden, and ironically, reconstructed and housed in geometric form. For me, the work explores the vulnerability of our environmental existence and the abstracted concept of archiving little preserved and contained pieces of it that are “suitable for framing” … a natural history of inevitable change… in nature as well as life. Denis Roussel would have loved this work I think. Wondering if you have looked at German Sculpture Thomas Demand’s work with paper? Or perhaps Berndaut Smilde’s clouds within rooms? For me the work is precious and sad in the same moment. ” Christopher James
Work of Merit Award
“These are such beautifully crafted images… ripe with mystery (like a Giorgio de Chirico painting) or a transcendental moment in a horror film. The architectural strength is clear as is the existential suggestion of what exists around the next corner that has not yet become empirical or experienced. Your toned cyanotypes are complete and I am very interested in the scale and immersive experience of what they might be like in person… and what the next iteration might be. First thought was suggesting replicating them on 40” x 60” 1200 lb Arches paper and installing them in a white-cube space where the cube (gallery) disappears. Might be really impressive!” Christopher James
Work of Merit Award
Cyanotypes and Lumen
“Your work is so strong conceptually and texturally… it must be exhilarating to be at play in the studio when everything is working. The Most Beautiful Anthropocene, a collaboration of
cyanotypes and lumen printing, is a nice marriage of natural materials pushing sustainable,
conceptual and integrated boundaries. The word Anthropocene is perfect here as a definition of our time when everything we do as human activities are the dominant influences of climate and the planet. The work is, for me, as if nature were given an assignment to explain it all and decided halfway into the project that it was pissed off and wanted to show it. Your work is a good messenger.” Christopher James
Portfolio Review Award
“Your wonderful selection of images, from When It Rains, is a solid exercise in using the ability of layered photograms as a visual language to explore memories as they relate to objects. For me, the works are both playful and disturbingly surreal… disturbing in that the combinations of images inspire unexpected associations in the viewer, e.g., a writer lazily enjoying a rest in a field but in danger of being impaled by writing instruments falling from above… an image of writer’s block! As well, the woman wading through a body of water while holding an umbrella and seemingly unaware of the contents of the silverware drawer falling down on her (a lot of metaphorical association with the responsibilities of curating an inherited home in this image. Of course those interpretations may not match your intentions but you can never know where your viewer’s imagination or life experiences will take your work. There is, for me, a definitive “through the looking glass” experience with your work. Very strong.” Christopher James
The Rfotofolio Award
Francois Pitot Eduardo Almeida
Statement from Rfotofolio
The submissions submitted this year presented a challenge for us. Well crafted images and very nicely assembled portfolios and very personal comments from each artist.
We ran into an interesting dilemma in the truest sense of the word during our review for the Rfotofolio award. Rather than continue an unresolvable discussion and decision we have made a unique decision. It was sort of like a debate over which is better tasting, an apple or an orange. Both are delicious and in a perfect world you would be lucky to have them both. We decided that a tie would be appropriate and so we will have two winners of the Rfotofolio award this year.
Francois Pitot’s technique is stunning. His photos inspire the viewer to imagine a story. His portfolio was beautifully presented. It has a sense of mystery and left us wanting to see more.
Eduardo Almeida gave us a breathtaking view of some of the most dramatic scenes in mountainous terrain. They are truly beautiful and show us a world few of us will ever easily see. He presented a unified portfolio that is well presented and provided a very clear explanation of his interest in analog photography and made us wonder what he might present next.
As always we would love to see both of their images in person as prints. While the website does a great job with their images, in our opinion nothing is better than seeing the image as a print.
CR and JR
To encourage creative work and the gifted practitioners that created it we are recognizing the following work as chosen by Christopher James and Rfotofolio
Platinum and Silver Leaf, Salted Paper
“What beautiful salted paper work you have created… and then extended with platinum and silver leaf. Indeed, these are visual meditations related to healing and loss. You mention “hidden shame” but the work is, for me, less concerned with a specific event and more attuned to peering into the depths of its reflection of meaning. Notice, that all of your work demands negotiation with the image and of the place seen. There is always something in the foreground preventing the viewer from having free and unobstructed access to what is important to you.” Christopher James
Cyanotype, Chine collé
“This work is really interesting to me and I am impressed with the translation of a photograph through the techniques cyanotype, printmaking and an alternative medium such as collage / montage. As well, the 2-D photographic experience is further enhanced via the chine collé which enhances the tactile experience of the reconstructed landscape. It is an extension of the impulse to make the initial image and a new and refreshing way of seeing the familiar. Very nice work!” Christopher James
“I like the energy in this work… applying a street photographer’s sensibilities to the static
experience of looking at a cyanotype. For me, the work represents a dialogue about being
unable to stabilize an experience in a photograph and then rendering it in blue. Even the way you are applying the sensitizer to the paper is rushed and random and perfectly, for me, in harmony with the images you are making. The work is about not belonging to a place. An immigrant’s experience versus a tourist or resident experience. My favorite in this collection is the first one with the sprocket holes as it is as much about the analog photographic experience as it is about the subject. It is a really wonderful image… one that I would love to experience as a giant print in person.” Christopher James
Yves Francois Wilson
To learn more about the work of Denis Roussel please click on his name.
To learn more about Christopher James please click on his name.
To learn more about the photographers please click on their names.
2023 Denis Roussel Award, Lisa Nebenzahl
Work of Merit Award, Robert Treat
Work of Merit Award, Aindreas Scholz
Portfolio Review Award, Emma Powell
Thank you to Christopher James for your thoughtful considerations. You did an amazing job. We hope his comments will inspire each artist.
Thank you to Rachel Roussel-Diamond and family for your encouragement and support.
A special and continuing thank you to Josephine Sacabo for your support of the Denis Roussel Award and your support of Rfotofolio.
Thank you Denis for your friendship, inspiration and generosity.