The Citibank Photography Prize was established in 1996 to reward the "individual who is judged to have made the most significant contribution to the medium of photography during the previous year". It accepts entries from a wide range of work including photojournalism, documentary, fashion and fine art photography.
Originally the prize was a £10,000 sum for the winner, but this has now been raised to £15,000.

Now in its fifth year, the prize is an established, internationally recognised award. A jury composed of individuals from varying backgrounds, select a shortlist and then following an exhibition of the shorlisted works, the overall winner is chosen.

Winners in previous years were: Anna Gaskell (America, 2000), Rineke Dijkstra (The Netherlands, 1999), Andreas Gursky (Germany, 1998) and Richard Billingham (UK, 1997).

The shortlisted artists for the 2001 Prize were exhibited at The Photographers' Gallery, London from 2 February - 24 March 2001. They were Boris Mikhailov, Roni Horn, Hellen van Meene, Jem Southam and Hannah Starkey.

Lord Puttnam announced the winner at a champagne reception at the gallery on 1st March. Mihailov was the winner, but all the shortlisted participants received a cheque for £1,500 to reward their "exceptional" work.

There had been over 350 nominations, and the final exhibition was attended by over 62,000 people.

A series of short films about the artists was also screened by Channel 4. Philistine that I am, it was only after seeing the work of Hannah Starkey on the goggle box that I managed to stir myself into going to the exhibition rather than just talking about it. Her photographs of women stuck a particular chord with me. Roni Horn's images of water were also very special, and Helen Van Meene's portraits were haunting. Jem Southam, I found to have a different impact on me to that of the other works - calming and serene rather than thought provoking.

The winner, Boris Mikhailov certainly did present the most meaningful and complex work. Born in 1938 in the Ukraine and currently living and working in Berlin, he lost his job as a technical engineer in the late 1960s, after the KGB found some nude photographs which he had taken of his wife. After this incident Boris decided to devote himself to photography. His winning work, Case History, (published by Scalo) is "an unflinching, despairing sequence of nearly 500 colour photographs exploring the break-up of the Soviet Union by focusing on its human casualties, the bomzhes or homeless."
They are painful to view, and make you feel every bit the voyeur you are, spying on the lonely, degraded and hurt - both physically and mentally - people who have fallen off the edge of Russian society. The project is morally very complex, as Mikailov has paid each of the homeless subjects to bear parts of their anatomy, often in the freezing cold and snow while they pose.
Knowledge of this somehow instils in you a sense of complicity in their predicament and stirs up a host of other emotions, which sit uncomfortably alongside the revulsion and fascination you feel for their de-humanised state.

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