Last Friday, on the heels of Paris Haute Couture Week, the excitement in France moved some 500 miles south to the picturesque town of Arles, where Dior Makeup celebrated its annual Photography Award for Young Talents. Now in its second year, the program spotlights up-and-coming photographers from all over the world, inviting students from international art and photography schools to submit work. Entries are eventually narrowed down to 10 finalists, who will showcase their work at a special exhibition and awards ceremony in the South of France, before a winner is named. The judges include jury president and French photographer Dominique Issermann; Maja Hoffmann, president and founder of Luma Arles; photographer Sonia Sieff; Peter Philips, the creative director and image director Dior Makeup; Simon Baker, director of the Maison Européenne de la Photgraphie; and Claude Martinez, president and CEO of Parfums Christian Dior. This year the program, developed in partnership with French photography school École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie and hosted at Luma Arles, asked participants to celebrate the “Art of Color,” giving them carte blanche to produce work that spoke to the theme of “women’s faces.” Here, a look at how each of the 10 finalists interpreted the directive; expect to see much more of these names for years to come.
By her own admission, Daniela Constantini Bistrain likes to create “dark and poetic photographs.” Originally from Mexico, she studied at the International Center for Photography in New York and currently lives in Switzerland—all places that have informed her art. “I allow myself to feel when something or someone calls out to me in silence and asks to be photographed. I love walking the streets of Bern and going into flower shops, food markets, and secondhand stores,” she said. “Suddenly there is a flower that I can envision in a photograph, and all the other pieces start building in my mind. I just allow myself to feel and connect with the space I am in. This is a cycle that never really stops; there is always, always someone or something that will call out to me, and I will always listen.”
Photo courtesy of Daniela Constantini Bistrain, with authorization of use for Parfums Christian Dior
“Photography is not merely a means of expressing visual beauty, but a meaningful presence that must convey meaning through implicit parables,” said Chung-Ang University student Park Dabin. For her submission, Dabin photographed two “twin”-like women, meant to symbolize the relationship between North and South Korea. “I wanted to raise questions about the social perceptions of the dichotomous judgment about all parts, through various behaviors of models that are similar in appearance but different,” she said. “In the case of the series, it is an attempt to solve stereotypes based on South Korea and North Korea.”
Photo courtesy of Park Dabin, with authorization of use for Parfums Christian Dior
A student at the Shanghai Institute of Visual Arts, Gangao Lang took home this year’s big prize—a 10,000 euro grant, as well as a creative commission—for her series Second Self-Introduction, which incorporates geometrical shapes and different materials over the traditional portrait of a woman.
Photo courtesy of Gangao Lang, with authorization of use for Parfums Christian Dior
“While reading the Dior brief, I was immediately enthusiastic by the mention ‘color,’ which is an aspect I am particularly sensitive to in my work,” said Elsa Leydier, a local student from an Arles school, now based in Rio de Janeiro. “I decided to make portraits of women by using colored plastic bags between my lenses and my models. The plastics bags—which are for me a metaphor of our consumption society in which beauty and femininity became buyable, just like any other consumption good—hide the beauty of the models’ faces, but at the same time they could look as accessories or veils that would be part of their beauty. I wanted to show the paradox of the way we see and apprehend beauty in our current society.”
Photo courtesy of Elsa Leydier, with authorization of use for Parfums Christian Dior
Rather than submit a still series, Kyoto University of Art and Design student Hinako Meiji stood out by presenting a short film inspired by Frank Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. “It seemed that there was something in common between the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, and women, and I decided to challenge this subject,” said Meiji.
Still courtesy of Hinako Meiji, with authorization of use for Parfums Christian Dior
Yurina Okada, a student at the Kyoto University of Art and Design, participated in the project to find a deeper connection with the model she was shooting. “The girls who became models change expression according to the environment and feelings at that time,” she said. “I left the moment in the photos that seems so delicate and disappearing.”
Photo courtesy of Yurina Okada, with authorization of use for Parfums Christian Dior
A graduate of ENSP Arles, Rosalie Parent showed a series of portraits of women, with their faces cut out to reveal old advertisements. The project is meant to ask the question of what it means to be an ideal woman.
Photo courtesy of Rosie Parent, with authorization of use for Parfums Christian Dior
“The scenes are dark and the colors are deep,” said Ana Pinto, a student at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, of her photographs. In her portrait series, light from familiar objects (think: the glow of a TV) illuminates her subjects. Her inspiration was, as she put it, “the feeling of nostalgia wrapped up in anxieties about the future — technological progress, desire, and the search for happiness.”
Photo courtesy of Ana Pinto, with authorization of use for Parfums Christian Dior
Patrick Selemani, of the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg, uses his photography to celebrate the women of South Africa. His work features straight-on portraits, often vibrant in detail, that are meant to highlight the modernity of a woman.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Selemani, with authorization of use for Parfums Christian Dior