Press Release sixth edition 2019/20 - Fondazione MAST - Photography Grant on industry and work / 2020

Press Release sixth edition 2019/20


The exhibition of the works of the sixth edition of the MAST Foundation photography competition opens on October 8th 2020.

The exhibition of the works of “MAST Photography Grant on Industry and Work”, the photographic competition on industry and work dedicated to emerging talents, presents the work from the five finalists of the sixth edition: Chloe Dewe Mathews, Alinka Echeverría, Maxime Guyon, Aapo Huhta e Pablo López Luz. These young photographers were selected amongst 47 candidates coming from all over the world and they have developed an original and unpublished work for the Fondazione MAST. 
On the occasion of the opening of the exhibition, staged in the PhotoGallery and curated by Urs Stahel, the winner of the 2020 edition will be announced. The five projects reflect on contemporary themes: from the environmental damages caused by intensive agriculture, to the role of women between past and present in the cinematography and computer science industries, the allure of technology and of industrial product design, the impact of artificial intelligence on traditional ways of living and the standardisation induced by the fashion industry.


“Every two years, through the Photography Grant on Industry and Work, the MAST Foundation offers young photographers the opportunity to face issues linked to the world of industry and technology, the work and capital systems, inventions, developments and the world of production” explains the curator Urs Stahel. “Often, their innovative and fresh views force us to confront the incongruences, fractures, phenomena, maybe even the disasters that we had so far not considered or tried to disregard”. The selected projects for this sixth edition are different amongst themselves, but linked by the topical issues they investigate and by the multiplicity of the media chosen.

Chloe Dewe Mathews shows the environmental damages of the intensive cultivation in the polytunnels, the plastic structures that cover 400 square km to allow the production of vegetables all year round; Alinka Echeverria looks at the fourth industrial revolution by reconstructing the stories of three female pioneers in cinematography and computer programming; Maxime Guyon  pushes photography to its full potential to reconstruct the technological aspects and the high performance of airplanes; Aapo Huhta explores the world of Artificial Intelligence, showing how “machines” read imagery in a suspicious way, raising doubts on the way softwares are implemented; Pablo López Luz  photographs shop windows in Latin America as a symbol of local resistance to the homogenisation powered by the global fashion industry, and calls for reflection on the urban landscape as the epicentre of social and cultural transformations.Created in 2007 to sustain research on the imagery of industry and work, as well as to give voice to emerging talents, the MAST Photography Grant on Industry and Work allows young photographers who win the grant to develop a project on industry and work and take part in an exhibition accompanied by a catalogue. Works from past winners and participants have contributed to the development of a photographic archive of contemporary artists which are now part of the wide historical collection of industrial photography of the MAST Foundation.


Chloe Dewe Mathews (London, UK, 1982) – in the project For a Few Euros More, she investigates the dynamic of modern agriculture, shading light on issues related to food production and consumption, to the exploitation of people and to the current environmental crisis. The project is located in the humongous Mar de Plastico (Sea of Plastic) that extends to the South West of Almeria, in Southern Spain, between the coast and Sierra Nevada, a huge agricultural surface where half of the fruit and vegetable that will be in the supermarkets of the whole of Europe is produced. Starting from these places, she puts in evidence three overlapping yet unlikely sites that characterise the area: the agricultural polytunnels, an abandoned mine and the deserted film sets of the spaghetti western movies. These imposing structures and decaying relics form the backdrop of Dewe Mathews’ video and photographic installation and of the travels of Marud, the migrant seasonal worker, protagonist of the video.

Alinka Echeverria (Mexico City, Mexico, 1981) – in the three-part work Apparent Femininity, she celebrates three female figures, putting in light the role of women in the history of cinema and computer programming. Grace, through a LED animation created starting from a photograph of Berenice Abbott recalls Grace Brewster Murray Hopper, who at the end of her military career had reached the rank of admiral of flotilla in the US Navy Reserve and who was an American computer scientist, a pioneer in computing. In Helen, a very common name at the time in silent movies, when women belonging to the working class were given the task to edit films, the artist honours these women’s ability with an installation made of printed glass plates, placed on base frames. Finally, the artist pays homage to Ada Lovelace, or Augusta Ada King-Noel, countess of Lovelace, the mathematician defined by many as the first programmer in history, and she does it with a huge mosaic, a collage made of multiple parts.

Maxime Guyon (Paris, France, 1990) – in his project Aircraft he creates large-format digital photographs of aerodynamic structures, turboprops, hydraulic pistons and electrical connections of airplanes. As Milo Keller explains in the catalogue of the exhibition “everything is in focus in these images, from the large fields to the details, from the skeleton of an entire cabin to the smallest rivetto. There is a sensation of control, of fragmented but total and artificial vision, almost fetishised. In the hyperrealistic images of Guyon we don’t find traces of the industrial architectures or of the hangar, and the figures remain suspended in a space without sky and without time, concrete while being hyperrealistic.”

Aapo Huhta (Haapajärvi, Finland, 1985) – In Sorrow? Very Unlikely, Aapo explores the way in which artificial intelligence perceives man-made photographs. The project is composed of recent photographs that Huhta selected from his personal archive and then had Google’s Vision API and Microsoft’s Seeing AI image-recognition programs – both available to the general public—interpret them. The real-time deductions made by the image-recognition programs’ respective AIs were then transformed into audio tracks. The result is a friction between images and words, photography and new technologies, that raise unsettling questions on the role of mankind in the future productive scenario.

Pablo López Luz (Mexico, 1979) – in the series Baja Moda, carried out in different cities in Latin America, he critically looks at the global fashion industry while analysing two key aspects of the contemporary Latin American culture: identity and resistance. Lopez Luz photographs clothes shops and local fashions with attentive and perceptive eyes, while portraying the window shops laid out in a precarious way but organized with care. They show a sort of proud resistance in the decision to preserve a trade and a way of life, swimming against the tide of being forced to manufacture clothes and shoes in Asia or surrender to new economic models and to the imminent homogenisation of cities invaded by the international brands.