Juror's Special Mention

RYAN DEBOLSKI
LIKE

Gnomic Book
Brooklyn, USA, 2020
Designed by Jason Koxvold

LIKE explores the experiences and relationships of migrant workers in Oman. But rather than focusing on the defining public image of poor working conditions, photographer Ryan Debolski depicts men finding agency and connection to the landscape of the beach and companionship in each other—they are as playful as they are introspective. A running dialogue of conversations via text message weaves together details of infrastructure and landscape and highlights the men’s digital communications with one another. LIKE refuses to dehumanize or mystify the laborer, and an accompanying essay by Jason Koxvold, “Raw Material: Capital and Exploitation at the Neoliberal Frontier,” contextualizes the work in the history of representation of labor in art. “The editing of this book is superb,” Joshua Chuang acclaims, “a compelling entrée into the roster of photobooks about lives otherwise lived out anonymously.”
“The position this work takes is very singular,” juror Stéphanie Solinas affirms, “a book on migrant workers in Oman, where we find a great presence of bodies with a form of sensuality where we expected to find brick walls and deserts. The weave between text and image, bodies and architecture offers a new, unexpected entry into the topic.”

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