The 2004 Mercedes-Benz for South African Photography goes to photographer Guy Tillim (b. 1962 in Johannesburg, ZA) for his sensitive and critical photographs, covering different genre as portrait photography, photos of trouble spots in Africa and urban landscapes. In addition to working as a freelance creative photographer, the 41-year-old has been illustrating reports for national and international media since 1986. With this distinction for Tillim, the Mercedes-Benz Award for South African Art and Culture confirms its assignment of serving as a forum for committed aesthetic positions.
According to the jury Tillim delves much deeper into the realm of conventional war photography. “He has a creative and poetic voice. Even though he works in a familiar tradition, his images are open to broader interpretation. They do not only reveal an elaborated consciousness of technique such as the use of black and white or color, and light, but an intimacy that brings the viewer closer to the subject. Tillim’s work has a sense of tension, an edge, and his continuous searching and exploration marks him as an exceptional photographer,” stated the jury.
Explaining the body of work at the Daimler exhibition, Tillim says: “Conflict in Africa in the last decades has been played out on a colonial stage. The set is changing as the power shifts from colonial to post-colonial and modern society. The reasons for the resulting conflicts are complex, and the motives that fuel individual groups in civil wars are difficult to unravel. Broken and twisted landscapes stand as a record of the carnage that these wars have wrought. At the same time many places not destroyed are adapted, reused, and are in transition. They will endure, and the scars they carried can be recorded.”