Duke University relaunches Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor documentary prize

In 1941, Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor published An American Exodus, “a book that renders human experience eloquently in text and images, and remains a seminal work in documentary studies”, say the organisers of the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor documentary prize, created in 1980 to support similar fieldwork collaborations.

Now, after a two-year hiatus, the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University has relaunched the prize and introduced new guidelines. “The [new] prize supports 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 updated guidelines expand on the idea of “writing” by allowing words to be represented by audio or in graphic novel format. “As in the past, edited oral histories, creative narratives and poetry (that is both personal and social) are also encouraged,” says the Center for Documentary Studies. “The new guidelines require that artists have already started their fieldwork.”

However, while the previous version of the award called for a photographer and a writer to collaborate on the project, the new guidelines allow for single artists or collaborative teams to apply.

“These changes to the award are inspired in part by the Center for Documentary Studies’ commitment to the new 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. “The philosophy of the program is guided by a belief in the intersection of personal artistic work with interpretive knowledge, and of the relevance of the individual documentary/experimental artist within the cultural history and life of communities. A key component to the program is the notion of creative engagement through the arts and the role of the artist in society.”

The winner will receive $10,000, a solo exhibition at the Center for Documentary Studies, and inclusion in the Archive of Documentary Arts at Rubenstein Library, Duke University. Entries are accepted until 30 April.

To apply, visit the CDS website.

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