Calvert 22 Foundation has named Latvian photographer Alnis Stakle as the winner of this year’s New East Photo Prize.

Stakle took home the top prize of £1,000 for his project Heavy Waters.

The series focuses on the towns and rural territories across the Crimean coast. Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, Crimea was one of its most popular resorts, with its sanatoria and spas serving prominent functionaries from the Communist Party. The local economy however, has undergone radical changes since the closure of its resorts, resulting in low employment and little industry. Heavy Waters presents an image of the slow decay of the region’s Soviet legacy, interspersed with splashes of the peninsula’s new capitalist rebirth.

“The Heavy Waters photo series was shot when Crimea was controlled by the Ukrainian government. These photographs are part of a continual tribute to my long term interest in the transformations of the post-Soviet space in the state of free market, capitalism and collective bewilderment,” said Stakle, a board member of Riga Photomonth and Professor of Photography at the Rigas Stradiņš University. “On the personal level, I had just got married, and although it was probably not quite a honeymoon trip in the conventional sense, for me and my wife it was a time filled with love.”

The work looks into “the formation of a new struggle of political power relations and ideologies in the region” — something which Alnis hopes will “trigger a discussion on geopolitical and ideological issues as well.”

Two special prizes were also awarded as part of this year’s competition. New East Photo Prize partner Metro Imaging presented the company’s Mentorship Award to London-based Polish photographer Michal Solarski for his series Infirmi, while Karol Pałka, also from Poland, was awarded the Fabrika Travel Photography Prize for his series Edifice.

Launched in 2016, the New East Photo Prize seeks to broaden perceptions of the New East through the medium of photography. This year, the biennial prize received hundreds of entries from 26 New East countries.

The work of all the finalists — including shortlisted photographers and collectives from Latvia, Romania, Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Croatia, Slovakia and Azerbaijan — is now on show at Calvert 22 Space in London until December 2. For more information on the exhibition, click here.

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