Ana María Arévalo Gosen wins Leica photography award for series on women’s prisons

Venezuelan photographer Ana María Arévalo Gosen has won the Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA) for her series Días Eternos, which explores women’s prisons in Venezuela and El Salvador

Woman washing a little girl in prison
© Ana María Arévalo Gosen, Días Eternos. The photographer’s series wins her the Leica Oskar Barnack Award 2021
(Image credit: Ana María Arévalo Gosen)

Ana María Arévalo Gosen has been unveiled as the winner of the 2021 Leica Oskar Barnack Award (LOBA), while German photographer Emile Ducke is the winner in the Newcomer category.

Venezuelan photographer Gosen’s series Días Eternos, her 2017 study of women’s prisons in Venezuela and El Salvador, claimed the prize. She used a Leica Q to capture the women in their living conditions, creating visual stories that open a dialogue into the consequences of imprisonment for both the subjects and Latin American society as a whole. ‘In the portraits of the women in jail, I’m concerned about the conditions of their imprisonment, where human rights seem to be ignored. I don’t think I can change these women’s lives, but at least through my work I can show that they exist,’ Gosen says.

Women laying on a bed

© Ana María Arévalo Gosen, Días Eternos

(Image credit: Ana María Arévalo Gosen)

The jury – assistant editor, photography, at The New York Times, Sandra M Stevenson; photographer Ralph Gibson; photographer and head of advocacy and education for Adobe’s Content Authenticity Initiative, Santiago Lyon; director, education and public affairs at the Royal Photographic Society, Dr Michael Pritchard; and art director and chief representative for Leica Galleries International, Karin Rehn-Kaufmann – chose Gosen as the recipient of the €40,000 prize money and Leica camera equipment.

In the Newcomer category for up-and-coming photographers under 30, Emile Ducke’s Kolyma – Along the Road of Bones series scooped the prize. The series traces the route of Stalin-era gulag inmates, along a remote highway in the Siberian region of Kolyma.

‘Leica continues its commitment to supporting photographers around the world, portraying the relationship between man and the environment,’ says Leica UK’s managing director Jason Heward. ‘This year’s LOBA, its 41st edition, proves testament to this. With around 100 top-notch international photography experts submitting their proposals, the quality of the work presented has been outstanding.

‘The humanity shown in the images from this year’s winner, Ana María Arévalo Gosen, is both striking and beautiful. Her Días Eternos series documents the challenging living conditions of women in prisons in Venezuela and El Salvador and her thought-provoking images reveal the human rights aberration of these women’s imprisonment. A powerful piece of work with immense visual impact and social voice.’

Women laying on a bed in prison cell

(Image credit: Ana María Arévalo Gosen)

Women wearing pink, holding a volleyball net

(Image credit: Ana María Arévalo Gosen)

Women on bunkbeds in prison cell

© Ana María Arévalo Gosen, Días Eternos

(Image credit: Ana María Arévalo Gosen)


Hannah Silver is the Art, Culture, Watches & Jewellery Editor of Wallpaper*. Since joining in 2019, she has overseen offbeat design trends and in-depth profiles, and written extensively across the worlds of culture and luxury. She enjoys meeting artists and designers, viewing exhibitions and conducting interviews on her frequent travels.