2018 Zeiss Photography Award Winner: Nick Hannes

The Garden of Delight is about consumerism, recreation and artificial urban development in Dubai. The book and exhibition will be launched in December 2018 in De Garage in Mechelen, Belgium. The series was awarded the Magnum photography Award in 2017, and more recently the Zeiss Photography Award in 2018 and shortlisted fort he Nannen Preis.

The rapid transformation of Dubai from a dusty fishing town in the sixties to the ultramodern metropolis of today fascinates both supporters and critics. With its prestigious shopping malls, artificial islands and iconic skyscrapers, the little emirate at the Arabian Gulf is a world player when it comes to tourism and business. Dubai’s excessive entertainment industry has a big impact on Emirati society. 90 percent of the population in Dubai are expats, only 10 percent are local Emirati citizens. Their traditional Islamic values are being challenged by Western lifestyle, imported by expat workers. Dubai is a generic city: a city without a long history, heritage or a specific character of its own. Dubai is a brand, an artificial construct that is focused primarily on generating profit.Our globalised world is transforming into a dual society, characterised by separation and exclusion. The first world is an archipelago of shielded islands or ‘capsules’ where it’s pleasant to live; the second world is all the rest: an ocean of poverty and chaos. In a capsular society, public space becomes privatised; capsular architecture—such as gated communities and malls—simulates public space on the private ground. This new urbanity, characterised by artificial inner spaces, runs like a thread through this series, that raises questions about authenticity and sustainability.”

Nick Hannes was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1974. and graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (KASK) in Ghent in 1997. For the following 8 years, he worked as a photojournalist before retiring from press assignments in 2006 to concentrate on his own documentary projects.

Hannes first project took him on a travel adventure by bus and train through the former Soviet Union that led to his first book titled “Red Journey” that documented the transitional phase in post-communist society. Red Journey laid the foundation for his photographic approach, in which irony, ambiguity and visual metaphors play prominent roles.

Most of Nick Hannes’s personal work has a strong political and social component. Detaching himself from the moment and from any possible news value of events in order to create universal imagery that deals with the problematic relationship we have with each other, with our environment and with our world in general.

In 2010 Nick started “The Continuity of Man’, an epic project that involved twenty trips to 21 Mediterranean countries over four years. This series juxtaposes parallel realities and paradoxes of the Mediterranean region, focusing on various contemporary issues such as mass-tourism, urbanisation, migration, conflict and crises of various kinds. ‘Mediterranean. The Continuity of Man’ was launched at the Museum of Photography (FoMu) in Antwerp in 2014, before travelling to several international photography festivals and museums.

Since 2008 Nick Hannes teaches documentary photography at KASK/The School of Arts in Ghent, Belgium.

Garden of Delight will be exhibited in London at Somerset House, as part of the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards from April 20 – May 6, 2018.