Photographer Jen Kinney wins Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize

Jen Kinney is the first photographer to win the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize since it was relaunched in late 2012. Previously, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University awarded the prize to encourage collaboration between a photographer and a writer in the tradition of Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor who worked together on the seminal work American Exodus.

Under the new rules, solo artists are also eligible, with the prize supporting “documentary artists – working alone or in teams – who are involved in extended, ongoing fieldwork projects that rely on and exploit, in intriguing and effective ways, the interplay of words and images in the creation and presentation of their work.”

The changes were introduced after the Center for Documentary Studies launched its Master of Fine Arts in Experimental and Documentary Arts at Duke University, which brings together two forms of artistic activity: “the documentary approach and experimental production in analog, digital and computational media,” says Duke University.

Kinney fits that description as the US photographer is both a photographer and a writer, whose project, City Under One Roof, combines images with writing designed “to illuminate the interplay between space and story,” she says.

Whittier is an “unlikely crossroads of community and solitude, isolation and claustrophobia,” the photographer adds. “The only land access to Whittier, which is 60 miles from Anchorage and located on the Prince William Sound, is by way of the longest rail and highway tunnel in North America. The town has a population of just over two hundred people, 90% of whom live in one 14-story building called Begich Towers.”

In City Under One Roof, Kinney is investigating “how the structures that people inhabit shape and order their lives; how, in turn, people construct, alter, and destroy spaces; and how these constant renovations to our physical world mirror changes in the stories that we tell ourselves, and how we structure our lives to these stories.”

In addition to photographing, Kinney is also writing and conducting interviews. “The text is essential,” she explains. “While the photographs in my project are my creations (with the exception of historical and vernacular images), the stories will be told in a combination of my voice and the voices of those I interview. In all likelihood the stories will conflict with one another, and with the town’s official history, and I want to welcome and celebrate those varying accounts.”

City Under One Roof will be published as a book.

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Image © Jen Kinney

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