Óscar Monzón Awarded First PhotoBook Award

Photo by Oscar Manzon from Karma
© Óscar Monzón



Photographer Óscar Monzón was recently awarded the First PhotoBook Award as part of this year’s Paris Photo fair.

Paris Photo, in conjunction with Aperture Foundation announced Monzón’s success in France last week for his work Karma, a series of snatched images of people in cars while they are stopped at traffic lights. The project was developed in Madrid and the images were made between 2009 and 2013 and it explores the use of the car as a mode of transportation that acts as an extension of the people within them.

Dalpine, the publishers of the work, say: “Karma explores a range of unconscious human behaviours imprinted on our memory. In terms of the relationship we establish with the car, these forms of conduct materialise in specific ways: detachment, competition, aggressiveness.”

The images are fast paced and almost abstract; they highlight the paradox that is presented by the car as a private space, within a broader public area. The fully-bled images on the pages of the book add emphasis and impact to the images, which are brightly flash-lit and invasive. The pages of the book themselves are shiny and add to the aesthetic. Lesley Martin of Aperture Foundation said: “The photographer’s flash ricochets violently off the hoods of cars, highlighting craters on the skin, dilating pupils, and creating a viscous red-eye effect in most of the subjects – at least of those whose eyes you can see.”

Photo by Óscar Monzón from Karma
© Óscar Monzón

The subjects often seem stunned, many of whom try to avoid being photographed by blocking the photographer with their hands. The images are intense and almost voyeuristic, with the viewer being both inside and outside of the vehicle. “Karma acts as a direct invocation of J. G. Ballard’s Crash; it is a creation of pure energy and form; a book moulded to the purpose of conveying a manic, dangerous buzz,” Martin commented.

This year’s event represents the third edition of the Paris PhotoBook Awards. Rosangela Renno was awarded PhotoBook of the Year and special recognition was given to War/Photography. The winners were selected from 30 books that had been chosen by an international jury and exhibited at the PhotoBook section of the fair. They will also be displayed at the Aperture Gallery in New York from December 5th to January 30th, 2014.