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Carrie Mae Weems Becomes First Black Woman To Win Hasselblad Photography Prize

Artist Carrie Mae Weems was announced as the 2023 winner of the prestigious Hasselblad Photography prize – creating history as the first Black woman to win it.

The Hasselblad Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in photography. It is named after Swedish inventor Victor Hasselblad, famed for inventing the camera. In 1978, after his death, the Erna and Victor Hasselblad Foundation was created from his will. The estate also formed the award which gave the inaugural honor in 1980 to Lennart Nilsson. Each year, the Hasselblad Prize strives to recognize and honor significant achievements in the field of photography and comes with award money of SEK 2,000,000 (USD 187,000).

The Kitchen Table Series (1990)

Carrie Mae Weems is one of the most recognizable names in the current photography scene. Over a career spanning almost four decades, she has looked at racial and gendered aspects of the world through her lens. While her resume is spread across various multimedia forms and performance art, she is best known for her photographic works. Perhaps her best-known work is The Kitchen Table Series (1990), while she herself is the protagonist.

Her recognition seems to be a part of a continuous effort from the Hasselblad Foundation to be more diverse in their selections. Last year, Dayanita Singh became the first person of South Asian descent to win the prize. The foundation wrote on Weems’ selection: “Her artistic practice is inherently activist, poignant, and lyrical. She creates evocative, potent tableaux and confronts painful histories, institutional power, and social discriminations.”

In a statement, Weems said: “In the midst of the radical shifts taking place across cultural institutions, and as the first African American woman to receive the Hasselblad Award, some might say, ‘it’s about time!’ Nevertheless, receiving the Hasselblad Award has left me speechless.” She will be awarded the prize – a gold medal – at a ceremony in Gothenburg, Sweden on October 13 this year.