What is the »Merck-Preis«?

“In 2020, we are sponsoring the »Merck-Preis«, endowed with €10,000, for the 8th time. The focus on 15 selected works from which an award winner will chosen, as well as the concentrated presentation at one location, once again emphasize the importance of the award in a special way. As a sponsor, we are of course very pleased about this as the »Merck-Preis« is one of the most important awards in the field of contemporary photography in Germany and radiates far beyond our city limits,” says Tanja Zocher, responsible for cultural sponsoring at the Darmstadt based science and technology company Merck.

The »Merck-Preis der Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie« is a central element of the festival and traditionally gets awarded on the opening evening. Not only due to its extraordinarily high prize money compared to other photography awards,  but also in general to other photo festivals, the»Merck-Preis der Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie« is clearly a one of a kind award and an unique feature of the festival.

The »Merck-Preis der Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie« demands consistently implemented and high-quality work from the artistic to the presentation on site. All photographers and artists who work with the medium of photography as well as all students of, for example, art, design and photography and photo assistants were invited to participate in the open call for the »8. Merck-Preis der Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie«. An independent, contemporary position had to be recognizable as well.

A Jury of curators and photographers, some of whom also co-founded the festival,  chooses up to 15 artists of an Open Call for the shortlist on two consecutive days as the result of intensive discussions of all submitted portfolios. In 2019, the curatorial concept and installation of the group-exhibition was directly decided during the Jury Meeting for the first time in the history of »Darmstadt Photography Days«.

The Jury of »8. Merck-Preis der Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie» consisted of:
Alexandra Lechner (Photographer, Co-Founder of DTdF, RAY-Curator)
Ute Noll (On Photography, Photographic Editorial Department DU)
Marcel Rauschkolb (Board of DTdF-Förderverein)
Julia Reichelt (Director of Kunstforum of TU Darmstadt)
Prof. Dr. Kris Scholz (Hochschule Darmstadt)
Gregor Schuster (Photographer, Co-Founder of DTdF)

In 2020, works by all nominated  artists will be exhibited in a group-exhibiton at Designhaus Darmstadt on Mathildenhöhe during the whole time span of the festival. The hanging, installation and exhibitional context will be decisive for the final decision of the Jury on the opening day of »11. Darmstadt Photography Days« when discussing which artist should be awarded the »8. Merck-Preis der Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie«.

Trophäe für die Preisträgerin oder den Preisträger des »8. Merck-Preises der Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie« 2020 © Felix Schöppner

Trophy awarded to the winner of  »8. Merck-Preis der
Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie« 2020 © Felix Schöppner

Artist at the mounting of an exhibition of »09. Darmstadt
Photography Days« 2016 © Johannes Schembs