Call for entries: Elfriede Mejchar Award for Photography


Elfriede Mejchar

I'm not an artist, I'm a photographer
Elfriede Mejchar (1924 –2020)

With this repeated statement, Elfriede Mejchar expressed that photography was not a "means to any pictorial work" (Otto Breicha) and that it was not based on any artistic intention, but that the "medium-specific essence" of photography determined her work. Being friends with many photo artists – most of them much younger than her – she was well aware of the polemical effect of this statement. With the growing authority of her increasing age, however, she wanted to challenge people to think about the essence of photography.

She herself was not concerned with capturing a particular, even decisive moment; nor was she interested in immortalising the "approvedly beauty of all kinds" (Otto Breicha) or presenting the offside. Unagitatedly and unspectacularly, she captured what she saw; not to create a sense of wonder at the "other", but to awaken empathy for the very ordinary. By photographing it, she opened it up to the imagination of the viewer. Interventions remained minimal. Elfriede Mejchar did not stage pictures, she only arranged what she found, using classical methods such as collage or the sandwich technique. Everything she did was rooted in a self-evident mastery of craftsmanship. Elfriede Mejchar stood for accuracy, preservation, curiosity, dialogue, community, solidarity and showed interest – even in old age – in the work of a much younger generation of photographers.

The community of heirs of Elfriede Mejchar (Susanne Gamauf, Charlotte Gohs, Fritz Simak, Robert and Katalin Zahornicky) therefore endows an award for photography of Euro 7,000 (seven thousand) to commemorate the work of this extraordinary Austrian photographer; in order to encourage and honour all those in her spirit who are concerned with the medium-specific essence of photography as means of depicting the existing.

The Elfriede Mejchar Award for Photography will be awarded for the first time on the occasion of Elfriede Mejchar's 100th birthday in 2024 as part of the commemorative exhibition that the Province of Lower Austria will hold at the State Gallery of Lower Austria in Krems. After that, the prize will be awarded biennially until further notice.

FLUSS – society for the promotion of photo and media art – with the support of the Province of Lower Austria, will be responsible for the implementation of the award (call for entries, jury and award ceremony), as well as the organisation of an exhibition of works by the award-winner in the Castle of Wolkersdorf in the Weinviertel.

A jury of four will select the winner from the submissions received. The jury members are Renate Bertlmann (artist), Ruth Horak (author, curator and lecturer on contemporary art and photography), Alexandra Schantl (head of the Collection Art after 1960 of the State Collections of Lower Austria) and Fritz Simak (representative of the community of heirs, art historian and photographer).

Submission Criteria

Applications are open to photographers who are Austrian citizens or have been permanently resident in Austria for a minimum of three years and who – in the spirit of Elfriede Mejchar's work – are concerned with the media- specific essence of photography.

Submission deadline: Oct 1st 2023, 0:00 (CEST) to Oct 25th 2023 23:59 (CEST).
Submissions are only possible in digital form.

Further information on the required submission documents:

Download Submission Criteria

Applicants will be informed in writing of the jury decision in February 2024.