Pierre-Elie de Pibrac is one of the three finalists of the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2021 of the National Portrait Gallery for some portraits of his series Hakanai Sonzai. The photographer was shortlisted among 2215 photographers from 63 different countries.
The winners will be announced on Monday 8 November 2021.
Pilbrac’s shortlisted large-format portraits were taken in Japan, where he spent eight months accompanied by his wife and children. Travelling to the country’s most troubled regions, he focused his lens on people who exhibited fortitude in the face of adversity. In Fukushima, he photographed residents still exiled from their contaminated homes following the nuclear meltdown a decade ago. Other portraits were taken in the former mining town Yubari, once known as the country’s capital of coal, now devastated by colliery closures and depopulation.
‘Each portrait emanates from long discussions I had with my subjects about a painful event in their lives,’ he says. ‘In all the pictures I forbid any movement, as if they are trapped by their surroundings with no visible escape’ says Pibrac.
The series title, Hakanai Sonzai, translates as ‘I, myself, feel like an ephemeral creature’. It reflects Pibrac’s belief that his sitters’ forbearance is rooted in a national culture of fatality and awareness of impermanence.
The portraits will be exhibited at the Cromwell Place in London (The National Gallery is currently closed) from the 10th November 2021 to the 3rd January 2022.