Mateusz Kowalik wins the II Star Photobook Dummy Award

The Star Photobook Dummy Award already has a winning photobook dummy for its second edition, it is “Devil’s Rib”, by Polish photographer Mateusz Kowalik.

This dummy was presented as a candidate for the Award by Krzysztof Candrowicz, co-founder of the Lodz Festival in Poland and one of the international nominees for the Star Award 2022. Later, the Jury of this edition selected it as one of the 10 finalist dummies and finally as the winner.

‘Devil’s Rib’, the winning photobook dummy, portrays city ​​people who decide to live in nature

The Jury has made this statement explaining its decision:

“‘Devil’s Rib’ describes the radical and inspiring decision to live in nature that some people make, modern hermits who voluntarily decide to escape the hectic pace of urban life to inhabit a wild environment, with its charms and difficulties. The author traveled repeatedly to the place, he has lived a year in the middle of nature in total, in his native Poland, experimenting and documenting this model of vital choice.

The images in his photobook dummy introduce us to a world where nothing is taken for granted. Seemingly idyllic, the imperfect landscapes and the people portrayed manage to convey the reality of this alternative way of life. The photographs transmit strength and vulnerability, tension and calm in equal parts, accompanied by brief texts that offer complementary information about the daily tasks and emotional aspects that these people face.

The excellent design of the dummy, in line with the content of the story, stands out for its calm sobriety that contrasts with powerful black and white images whose evocative capacity transcends the document.

The resilience of these lives in a natural world is in harmony with the values ​​that the Star Photobook Dummy Award hopes to celebrate.”

More statements from jurors

Mireia Carbonell, art director and graphic designer

This being the second edition of the Star Photobook Dummy Award, it is surprising to see the quality of the dummies that have arrived from more than 36 countries. This demonstrates the great moment of the photobook and the importance of this award in the sector. The diversity of themes and the wonderful narratives that have been developed have made our choice very difficult.

However, the winning project managed to get the entire jury to agree, as it is a proposal full of delicacy and sensitivity, and very coherent in the relationship between the concept and the formalization of the photobook.

Alice Monteil, responsible for the educational area of ​​Photographic Social Vision and Gestalt therapist

I was surprised by the great diversity of languages, themes, styles and proposals received. I think the shortlist of finalists shows a wide variety of projects, and it is amazing to see how each one, in its own specific way, responds to the common values ​​of the award.

In terms of content, I have been able to corroborate that the photobook is a format that is very prone to personal stories, emotional catharsis and essays related to issues of family relationships. But I also liked to see how contemporary themes of common interest appeared, such as assisted reproduction, the environmental crisis, stories about gender identity or situations of repression in countries with dictatorial governments. All treated from a sensitive and delicate approach.

The award-winning work is a good reflection of the balance we look for, between theme, quality and values. It is an intimate and profound work that at the same time challenges all of humanity about a phenomenon that concerns us all. From poetry, personal involvement and dark beauty that also fascinated Inés Casals, to whom the creation of this Award pays tribute.

Arianna Rinaldo, independent curator and photography consultant

In only two editions, the Star Award already confirms its quality and professionalism. Thanks to the international nominators, experts from the photographic and editorial sectors, the quality of the dummies presented remains very high. The photobook is a delicate balance between the images, the visual, and the graphic design that enriches the whole. To this are added other elements such as the text, the type of paper, the touch, the format, the weight: everything contributes to enhancing the value of the story told. The award wants to celebrate this union and at the same time embody a series of values ​​that the founders of the award associate with the figure of Inés Casals: among them, empathy, beauty, poetry, tenacity.

From the Photographic Foundation, we thank the international nominators for the high quality of all the proposals submitted, and we also thank the jury for their excellent work in selecting and evaluating the more than one hundred dummies received. In the same way, congratulations all the authors of the dummies received, especially the 10 finalists and, of course, the winner. We are looking forward, with great enthusiasm, to starting the process of converting the “Devil’s Rib” dummy into a photobook, together with its author Mateusz Kowalik and the publishers Phree, Ediciones Posibles and Editorial RM.