LEBOHANG KGANYE, “Mohlokomedi wa Tora,” 2018, Scene 2 (Xanita board on wood). | © Lebohang Kganye


SOUTH AFRICAN ARTIST Lebohang Kganye emerged from a shortlist of four international artists and collectives to win the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2024, including a £30,000 award (about US $38,300). Drawing on oral histories, family photo albums, and South African literature, Kganye’s photography practice is centered on visual storytelling. Her unique approach spans sculpture and moving images, resonating with the performative and theatrical.

Awarded annually, the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize goes to “a living artist of any nationality who has made the most significant contribution, either through an exhibition or publication, to the medium of photography in Europe in the previous year.” Billed as “one of the most prestigious prizes in the world of photography,” the juried prize seeks to bring attention to notable developments in contemporary photography and works of artists shaping the direction of the international photography scene.

Kganye was selected for the prize based on her exhibition “Haufi nyana? I’ve come to take you home,” which was presented at Foam in Amsterdam, The Netherlands last year. The award was announced May 16.

KGANYE LIVES AND WORKS in Johannesburg, where she is pursuing an MFA at Witwatersrand University. Her academic background also includes studying fine arts at the University of Johannesburg (2016) and photography at the Market Photo Workshop in Johannesburg (2011).

Exploring her personal family history, notions of home, and the collective history of South Africa in the aftermath of colonialism and apartheid, she produces complex works that exist between memory and fantasy. The works include photographic montages, film animation, and sculptural installations that employ life-size, cut-out figures and silhouettes to create layered scenes evincing stage settings.

Her exhibitions include “Sue Williamson & Lebohang Kganye: Tell Me What You Remember,” which was featured at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pa., last year.

Kganye is the recipient of several photography awards, including the Grand Prix Images Vevey 2021/22; and Camera Austria Award, 2019. She also won the 2022 Foam Paul Huf Award, which gave her the opportunity to present “Haufi Nyana? I’ve Come to Take you Home,” the solo exhibition the led to her receiving the Deutsche Börse Foundation Prize.

The show features four projects in various mediums—“It’s my inheritance: Her-Story,” 2013 (photographic montages), “Lighthouse Keeper,” 2018 (spatial installation), “Shadows of Re-Memory,” 2021 (film animation), and “The Work of Shadows,” 2022 (patchwork). Kganye discussed her practice and the exhibition in a video made for the prize:

    On Storytelling
    I always knew that I was passionate about storytelling. When I finished school, I imagined I would become a journalist because I thought that that’s what people who write, that’s the sort of career path that writers go into. I think my earliest work really starts with going back to the sort of literature that I was introduced to as a child, being Western fairy tales. And then I really moved away from that.

    On Oral Histories
    Oral history has really informed my work a great deal. This is really where the start of me telling my own story began. And so it later then translates into it becoming about the story of my grandfather, who then becomes quite central in the story because he was the first one to move to the city. The installation is these four scenes, two scenes that are about life in the countryside in South Africa. Stories that were shared with me from my family that are about the countryside and two stories about city life.

    On Identity and Erasure
    Then in the center is meant to be the light and the light is central in the work that’s particularly about my family because Kganye, which is what I’ve been researching—my surname—all of these years, is a Sotho surname which means “light.” It’s meant to have these four different parts that lead you to the center and to experience these four stories that relate to the four different ways in which the family name, Kganye, is spelled. It isn’t just about this surname that evolved over time. It’s very much about the sort of erasure of family identities, the erasure of family names, the erasure of languages. The work is beyond my own family story.

“I always knew that I was passionate about storytelling.… Oral history has really informed my work a great deal. This is really where the start of me telling my own story began.” — Lebohang Kganye


The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize was first awarded in 2005. Recent recipients include Cameroon-born Nigerian photographer Samuel Fosso (2023) and American photo-based artist Deana Lawson (2022), the first Black artist win the prize.

This year, artists VALIE EXPORT (Austria), Gauri Gill & Rajesh Vangad (India), and Hrair Sarkissian (Syria, lives in London and The Hague), were shortlisted alongside Kganye.

An exhibition of the four shortlisted artists is currently on view at The Photographers’ Gallery in London (Feb. 23-June 2, 2024) and will travel to the Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation in Eschborn/Frankfurt, Germany, where it opens on Jun 13 and runs through Sept. 22, 2024. CT


IMAGE: Above, at right, Lebohang Kganye. | Photo by Audoin Desforges


FIND MORE about Lebohang Kganye on her website and Instagram


Lebohang Kganye, recpient of the 2024 Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize, discusses her practice and winning exhibition. | Video by The Photographers’ Gallery


The catalog “Sue Williamson & Lebohang Kganye: Tell Me What You Remember” accompanied the recent exhibition at The Barnes Foundation. A new catalog “Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation Prize 2024” documents this year’s prize and explores the work of the four shortlisted artists, including Lebohang Kganye.


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