Finalists of the third edition of the Star Photobook Dummy Award

The Star Photobook Dummy Award celebrates its third edition and, shortly, we will announce the winning photobook dummy. The nominators of the 2023 edition presented more than 100 photobook dummies as candidates, coming from more than 35 countries and with a slightly higher number of women participants than men.

The jury of this edition of the contest, made up of professionals with long experience in the sector, has assessed the general high quality of all the proposals and has selected twelve finalist dummies, candidates to become a photobook thanks to the Star Award.

Jurado Star Photobook Dummy Award 2023

Jury meeting III Star Photobook Dummy Award

12 photobook dummies candidates for the Star Photobook Dummy Award

The candidate dummies, in alphabetical order of their authors, are:

“Section” by Elena Anosova (based in Moscow, Russia). Nominated by Anna Zekria.

Elena Ansova - Section

© Elena Ansova

The project delves into the impact of incarceration on women’s personalities. In prison, there is no privacy or personal space and punitive measures can be cruel and dehumanizing, leading to a loss of identity and individuality for inmates. The author’s interest stems from her own experience of being locked up as a teenager in a rehabilitation center. For Anosova, it is ironic that in Russia a romanticized vision of prisons and their elements of rebellion are glorified, at the same time there is a refusal to know the living conditions and daily routines of the inmates.

“Eva” by Lucía Antebi (based in Madrid, Spain). Nominated by Elisa Miralles.

Lucía Antebi - Eva

© Lucía Antebi

Antebi confesses that her greatest wish was to feel like she belonged in this world, to be seen. She identified with beauty and began to discover her sexuality through the eyes of other people, through their desire for her. To maintain it, she became a student of the image, the shapes, the clothes, her main interest was style. Now, she presents these images as notes about her youth, which try to establish a dialogue between the search for oneself through God and how, since the 80s, “we have become our own gods.”

“Peluche” by Dana Balajovsky (based in Madrid, Spain). Nominated by Anibal Mangoni.

Dana Balajovsky - Peluche

© Dana Balajovsky

It proposes a reflection on the family institution and the role of women through the archive of a magazine for housewives that the author’s parents published in the early 90s in Argentina and South America. Balajovsky uses photography as a way to explore her immediate environment to reflect on intimacy, the everyday and the domestic, starting from her own life to create metaphors of reality at an intersection between documentary and fiction.

“Home Before Dark” by Sofiya Chotyrbok (based in Milan, Italy). Nominated by Irene Alison and Francesca Seravalle.

Sofiya Chotyrbok - Home Before Dark

© Sofiya Chotyrbok

To obtain Italian citizenship, the author had to renounce her nationality, since she was born in Ukraine, which does not allow dual nationality. Through a series of trips to Ukraine, Chatyrbok rediscovers her own identity and belonging to a post-Soviet context, whose definition and limits are now more confusing and complex than ever. The starting point is a chruščëvka (Soviet apartment) and the objects and images it contains, symbolic relics that are both familiar and alienating.

“Limbo” by Luciana Demichelis (based in Buenos Aires, Argentina). Nominated by Anne Adesolabomi Nwakalor.

Luciana Demichelis - Limbo

© Luciana Demichelis

Limbo represents the place where souls await their judgment. It is the threshold between something that is gone and something that is yet to come. For years, the author has photographed parties where people are alone despite being all together between smoke machines and DJ booths. She has seen the transition from youth to adulthood of her generation, and the time between life and death of people known to her. The dance floor seen as a border territory, with an immense political charge in the search for one’s own identity. An enigmatic component that it shares with the consumption of psychoactive substances, fundamental in the body’s trance during those nights.

“Desi Boys” by Soham Gupta (based in Calcutta, India). Nominated by Francesca Seravalle.

Soham Gupta - Desi Boys

© Soham Gupta

In India, a country with great economic differences, xenophobia and tensions related to class and caste system, marginalized youth find their voice and an escape in the popular phenomenon of fashion and hiphop. A subculture that has been driven by the democratization of mobile phones and the Internet and a market for app services that has generated an unexpected source of income for this youth. With this project, Gupta aims to expand the limited representation of dark-skinned South Asian people, a group to which the author himself belongs.

“Strike a Pose” by Alicja Łabądź (based in Poland). Nominated by Rafał Milach.

Alicja Łabądź - Strike a Pose

© Alicja Łabądź

Legions of girls with long legs and a photogenic face want to be “supermodels,” an “ideal profession” linked to instant fame, wealth and the good life. But it turns out it’s not as easy as the agency told you it would be. The demand and competition are tremendous. There is always someone younger. And, if you’re lucky, your first check after your second contract in Asia will barely be enough to wipe away your tears of frustration and the longing to return home. The author documents the lives of the models while they work for long periods abroad, a reality very different from that projected on social networks.

“I Imagined It Empty by Ruth Lauer-Manenti (based in New York, United States). Nominated by Gabriela Cendoya-Bergareche.

Ruth Lauer-Manenti - I Imagined It Empty

© Ruth Lauer-Manenti

The author explains that, although her mother rarely let her photograph her, she changed her mind in the last week of her life. “As she neared her death, she became more beautiful every day. As she died, the nurses rushed to cover her body and take her away. I wondered why. It seemed natural to want to stay with her for a while. My mother was also an artist, although unfortunately, most of her work went unnoticed. Every time we moved, she left paintings behind and I was too young to understand the pain of this. I wanted to pay her a tribute that would honor her and create continuity between us as artists.”

“The Ridge” by Pablo López (based in Granada, Spain). Nominated by Jesús Micó.

Pablo López - The Ridge

© Pablo López

New Delhi, in the foothills of the Aravalli mountain range, is a city crossed from north to south by a strip of jungle known as The Ridge. Known for having been the scene of massacres during the Sepoy Rebellion of 1857, many inhabitants prefer not to enter this forest where they say there are ghosts. Attracted by its enigmatic character, the author ended up conducting an investigation into the colonial past of what until the end of the 19th century was a vacant lot, later remodeled by the British. Forty kilometers of border forest that are the dense and dark heart of the capital of India.

“Here, The Doors Don’t Know Me” by Mohammed Mahdy (based in Egypt). Nominated by Jessica Murray and Helena Velez Olabarria.

Mohamed Mahdy - Here, The Doors Don’t Know Me

© Mohamed Mahdy

A fishing community, known as “Little Venice,” is struggling to preserve its history and livelihood in the face of devastating news of its imminent evacuation and demolition of its homes in the Al Max neighborhood of Alexandria, Egypt. They try to resist the government order, while the author documents their lives and their stories. Mahdi promotes a collaborative project, which encourages them to share their dreams and memories by writing letters, like those messages in bottles that sometimes reached the shores of this community. As they lose their homes, their shared narratives become a testament to their resilience and unity.

“American Insider by Mario Rey (based in Madrid, Spain). Nominated by Alberto Salvan.

Mario Rey - American Insider

© Mario Rey

Much of the global landscape has adopted the aspirations expressed in pop culture and the mass media. It is the famous “American dream”. A way of life so present in the collective imagination of the Western population, which allows the author to create a portrait of North America outside its own borders. This work shows a country through its projections and reflections in other territories and is the result of a physical journey, but also an imaginary one, subjective but collective, false but completely genuine. It is the invisible bridge in the schizophrenic rivalry between the physical and psychological landscape.

“Characters Without a Movie” by Maria Sales (based in Barcelona, ​​Spain). Nominated by Román Yñán.

Maria Sales - Characters Without a Movie

© Maria Sales

Influenced by the discovery of the history of cinema and photography, two disciplines that she understands as the same language, the author has been photographing her friends in theaters and night streets for years. As if they were characters from a film noir or a nouvelle vague film. From nostalgia towards a time that she did not live but that she saw represented on the cinema screen. An invitation to reflect on reality and fiction, two states that are difficult to differentiate in the moment we currently live in.


Star Photobook Dummy Award winner

Soon, we will know the winning dummy of this annual award that will allow it to be captured in a photobook, with the collaboration of the publishers Phree, Ediciones Posibles and Editorial RM.

One more year, with the Star Photobook Dummy Award we pay tribute to the loving creativity of the graphic designer Inés Casals.