First Book Prize in Photography Countdown Highlights Past Winners: From 2008, Jennette Williams’ “The Bathers”

Budapest, 2004. Photograph by Jennette Williams.

Budapest, 2004. Photograph by Jennette Williams.

In anticipation of the fall publication of 2012 CDS/Honickman First Book Prize in Photography winner Gerard H. Gaskin’s Legendary: Inside the House Ballroom Scene, we’re taking a look back at previous winners of this prestigious biennial prize, which offers, among other things, publication of a book of photography.

This month, it’s Jennette Williams, chosen as the 2008 prizewinner by celebrated photographer Mary Ellen Mark. Williams drew on gestures and poses found in iconic paintings of nude women for her stunning platinum prints in The Bathers (2009, CDS and Duke University Press). She traveled to Budapest and Istanbul for eight years to photograph public baths and the women bathers who unapologetically inhabit and display their bodies with comfort and ease. “The Bathers questions what makes for beauty in women,” said Williams. “I don’t really have an answer to that, but I know that it has something to do with an acceptance of one’s form, being within a community of women, and living in, rather than fighting against, your body.” The acclaimed book was widely reviewed and was featured in The New Yorker and Photo District News, among other publications.

In 2012, Deborah Willis selected Gaskin to win the latest prize in this important series celebrating American photography. Gaskin’s Legendary will be co-published in fall 2013 by the Center for Documentary Studies and Duke University Press, and an exhibit of his work will be on view at CDS.

To view photos from The Bathers, Legendary, and other First Book Prize in Photography winners, click here.

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