A creatively apt series of self-portraits, providing an intimate insight into life with depression, has won the Wellcome Photography Prize 2020. 'Prozac', created by Arseniy Neskhodimov, is a powerful portrayal of his experience, that avoids stereotypes and clichés.
Neskhodimov, like many people living with depression, was prescribed Prozac, but after deciding it wasn’t for him he turned to photography to translate his first-hand experience into something others can relate to.
Arseniy Neskhodimov, 2020 Wellcome Photography Prize winner"What I am trying to depict is that wherever I go I cannot find the perfect place to be happy because such a place doesn't exist. I have tried to visualise my perception of depression and this somehow allows me to move forward."
John Moe, writer, radio personality and Wellcome Photography Prize judge, said: "It appealed to me as somebody who has written a book about depression and hosted a show about depression for years, but can still not really define it… Where I’ve struggled with words I can now point to some of these photos and say 'Oh depression, it’s this guy in this room.'"
Jeremy Farrar, Director of Wellcome and chair of the judges’ panel, said: "Unfortunately mental health is still in the shadows despite being a subject that we’re all touched by, whether directly or through our friends and family. When subjects stay in the shadows they remain stigmatised, but by bringing them out into the open this power is lost – helping reinforce it is normal and we can talk about it."
The category winners
Neskhodimov’s winning photos were selected from 25 shortlisted entries that tell provocative visual stories about the health challenges of our time. It also won the Mental Health (series) prize category.
The other category winners are:
- Social Perspectives – Marijn Fidder for 'Cards', revealing a private and touching moment of feeling loved while living with a brain tumour
- Hidden Worlds – Jenevieve Aken for 'Monankim', a personal spotlight on the social reality of female genital mutilation
- Medicine in Focus – Julia Gunther and Sophia Mohammed, Light for the World, for 'Hadia', showing the many people who are instrumental to the care of a baby with multiple disabilities
- Mental Health (single image) – Benji Reid for 'Holding on to Daddy', a unique and touching portrait of the supportive role family plays when living with depression.
MaryAnne Golon, Director of Photography at the Washington Post and Wellcome Photography Prize judge, said: "What I’ve found most exciting about this judging panel is the completely disparate points of view, which I find fascinating and delightful. By hearing the other reactions of people it’s super important to hear if the visual language we’re using is universal or not."