Posts Tagged ‘Prix Pictet’

Chris Jordan– Prix Pictet Commission– Ushirikiano

October 14, 2011

This week, The 2010 Prix Pictet’s Commission was unveiled at Diemar/Noble Photography here in London. The gallery hosted the commissioned exhibition last year by Ed Kashi, which you can see here. This year features the body of work by environmental photographer Chris Jordan, documenting his field trip to Northern Kenya, specifically focusing on the horrors of elephant poaching.

CHRIS JORDAN – ARTIST’S STATEMENT
‘This year I was honoured to receive the Prix Pictet Commission, which took me on a thousand-mile behind-the-scenes photo documentary safari in Kenya’s northern rangelands. There I encountered a confederation of NGOs working closely with local indigenous tribes to create a sustainable way of life based on principles of environmental stewardship, wildlife conservation, and peace. Despite enormous adversity and the dubious intrusions of first-world religious, commercial, and educational culture, this quiet mini-revolution—led by a council of tribal elders—is bringing peace and stability to a huge area of Kenya. I found the process heartening, especially considering that it is happening in a resource-poor part of the world that is being ravaged by the effects of global climate change. Throughout our two-week expedition across a stunningly wild landscape, I found myself constantly humbled by the grace, dignity, and spirit of the ancient tribal people I had the privilege of encountering there. I hope my photographs convey a small fragment of the complex and inspiring story of Ushirikiano* that is emerging in this remote part of Africa.

The phenomenon of elephant poaching strikes me as profoundly symbolic. As the largest animal to walk the Earth, the elephant is one of our planet’s most sentient beings, with a brain about four times the size of ours, equal or greater in intelligence to dolphins and higher-order primates. Elephants are one of the few creatures who grieve their dead in community, and this kind of mourning is one of the characteristics that anthropologists use to define the line between early humans and pre-human apes. In my view, our elephant populations—along with the ecosystems they inhabit—should be revered and preserved as sacred planetary treasures. Hopefully these photos can serve as a visual reminder of the trail of destruction we leave, and the damage we do to our own spirits, when we forget our relationship with nature and our connection with the higher purposes of our life and our own human dignity.’

Prix Pictet Commission: Chris Jordan
Ushirikiano
Building a sustainable future in Kenya’s Northern Rangelands
Diemar /Noble Photography 66/67 Wells Street, London W1T 3PY 6 -29 October 2011
[*Ushirikiano: noun (Swahili): partnership, collaboration, or community of shared interest.]

To see more from this body of work, check out Chris’s website gallery here.

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Ed Kashi: Madagascar, A Land Out of Balance

May 4, 2010

Each year the Prix Pictet commissions one of its short listed photographers to produce a body of work based on a region where Pictet & Cie is supporting a sustainability program. In 2009, Ed Kashi won the honors of this commission, taking him to Madagascar in connection with a UK Charity titled Azafady helping the poorest communities in Madagascar develop sustainable ways of living. I recently visited the Diemar/Noble Gallery here in London on Well St. only a couple of days after the opening reception and general huge bash for unveiling of this series of images. As much as I love a party, it’s really difficult to see the work in its entirety at an opening, with people and drinks always in the way.

Madagascar is one of the richest nations in the world when it comes to biodiversity. Yet it is simultaneously one of the poorest, with poverty and unsustainability reeking havoc on the land and people. Ed Kashi is an award winning photojournalist well known for his work dedicated to documenting the social and political issues of our times, recently and specifically about environmental degradation as it affects the state of humanity and the world. Kashi traveled to Madagascar in January of this year to document the ongoing destruction of the forest, the increasing desertification of once lush habitat, and the plight of the people as they fall ever deeper into a state of poverty as a result of dramatic unsustainable development. The party charity organization, Azafady, is working with some of the poorest communities in developing sustainable ways of living through promoting local forest management solutions and engaging people in planning, implementation and monitoring activities, and reducing forest dependence and depletion of forest resources. Kashi writes, “This Commission for the Prix Pictet is in direct response to the global cry to stop and take responsibility, seen through the dignified and vibrant people of south east Madagascar.”

The illegal practice of tavy, or slash and burn agriculture, is one of the most urgent threats to Madagascar's people and forests. As farmers search for fertile land in which to plan their crops, the forest is destroyed and a life-saving resource for Madagascar's rural poor is lost.

Men work on a brick kiln in Anosibe. This is a very inefficient use of wood, which is the main source of fuel for burning the clay to make the bricks.

The land fails, the crops fail. The people's ancient connection with the land is collapsing.

These young girls, ages 11-13, use a paste made from the tsiambara plant's roots to beautify their skin. They usually leave it on for 5 days and keep on redoing the process except on market days. The meaning of this process is called "I don't want to show you".

For further info and plenty more images, please visit Diemar/Noble, Prix Pictet, or Ed Kashi’s website’s directly.

While I realize that this specific exhibition would be documentary in nature due to both Kashi’s work and the nature of the commission, regardless of this I am still aware that there is a crossover between social documentary and fine art that’s taking place in the art world. This was a fine example. Diemar/Noble specializes in fine art photography, generally large scale in both the process and presentation, and using materials around since relatively early on in the medium’s history. I’m not saying you can’t be a fine art photographer if you don’t shoot 8×10 negatives. However, it is becoming more and more clear that the well known gap between photojournalists who are harnessing the power of images to deliver news and events of the moment (these days with 35mm digital cameras), and fine art photographers exploring abstract ideas through visual imagery using the camera as their tool (large format film), is closing. Or at least lessening in its size. This blog could sometimes be seen as an example of that. Although I set out initially to cover fine art photographers and keep the focus very much in the art world, I’m finding it hard to exclude some documentary and reportage photographers simply because of style. Surely it should be the content, intention, and success their images have on sending messages regarding the environment and related issues. But why is it then we regard photographs in a newspaper in a different light than if those same photographs were viewed in a gallery?

Context, social pretense, and the idea of the gallery or museum as the ultimate authority on art could a handful of reasons. A photograph changes from being a document to something more expressive when taken from the front page to a gallery wall. The photograph itself however doesn’t change. The technical elements of a photograph, its actual physical appearance, none of that changes. Instead, it is our interpretation of it. And yet, when I look at a photograph I usually instantly categorize it as one or the other. I am still intrinsically aware of stylistic differences in the photographer’s approach. What do you think? Do you think it’s fair that this line of separation is drawn and has been kept apart for quite some time? I welcome your thoughts in the comments section.

Prix Pictet 2009 Shortlist Announced

July 10, 2009
Andreas Gursky, Untitled XIII, 2002

Andreas Gursky, Untitled XIII, 2002

From the official press release: GENEVA & ARLES, France– A shortlist of twelve outstanding international photographers, from which one will be selected later this year to receive the Prix Pictet, the world’s photography prize for environmental sustainability, was announced today at Europe’s leading photography festival, Les Rencontres d’Arles in France.

The prize is supported by Swiss bank Pictet & Cie. Photographers shortlisted for the £60,000 (CHF100,000) first prize are:

Darren Almond, UK; Christopher Anderson, Canada; Sammy Baloji, Congo; Edward Burtynsky, Canada; Naoya Hatakeyama, Japan; Andreas Gursky, Germany; Nadav Kander, South Africa; Ed Kashi, USA; Abbas Kowsari, Iran; Yao Lu, China; Edgar Martins, Portugal and Christopher Steele Perkins, UK.

The Prix Pictet is an annual search for photographs that communicate powerful messages of global environmental significance under a broad theme. This year the theme is ‘earth’. A Mexican garbage dump where people forage to sustain a pitiful existence; the changing landscape and displaced communities of China’s Yangtze River; the devastating impact of oil production in the Niger Delta; and the annual pilgrimage to the desert fronts of the Iran-Iraq war are among the subjects that feature in the work of this year’s shortlisted artists.

The submissions speak of the harmful and often irreversible effects of exploiting the earth’s resources and reflect on the immediate and long-term impact of unsustainable development on communities across the globe.

Earth’, a book published by teNeues, cataloguing the work of the Prix Pictet nominees will accompany this year’s prize and launched on 6 October at Purdy Hicks Gallery, London.

The winner will be announced by Kofi Annan, honorary president of the Prix Pictet, on 22 October 2009 at the Passage de Retz gallery, Paris. A further award, in the form of a commission for one of the shortlisted photographers to visit a region where Pictet & Cie are supporting a sustainability project, will be announced at the same time.

Prix Pictet will collaborate with FIAC (22 – 25 October), Paris’ major international contemporary and modern art fair, and Paris Photo, the world’s leading event for photography (19 – 22 November).

An independent jury of seven leading figures from the worlds of the visual arts and the environment, chaired by the photography critic, Francis Hodgson, made the selection from over 300 nominations put forward by the seventy Prix Pictet nominators – a group that includes leading critics, practitioners and curators.

Nicolas Pictet, Partner of Pictet & Cie, said ‘The calibre of the shortlisted work for this second year of the Prix Pictet illustrates how the issue of sustainability resonates throughout the artistic community. We strongly believe that by bringing these images to the attention of the world, Prix Pictet will further highlight the devastating effect climate change is having on our planet and ensure sustainability remains at the heart of global policy making.’

Awarding the inaugural Prix Pictet to Canadian photographer Benoit Aquin last October, Kofi Annan said: ‘It is my hope that the Prix Pictet will help to deepen understanding of the changes taking place in our world and raise public awareness about the urgency of taking preventative action.’

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I’m not surprised to see most of the photographers who’ve made the shortlist, except for one. Edgar Martins. It’ll be very interesting to see if the latest controversy over the pulled NY Times images affects his candidacy negatively. The shortlist results came in only a few hours ago, and I would think the news of the controversy and ultimate withrawl of images from the NYT site hit France as soon as it did here in NYC, especially since the shortlist was announced from one of the largest photo festivals in the world.

I have been a fan Martins’ extensive bodies of work over the years, and loved Topologies. I find it hard however to now believe his black skies were all done within camera. I have no problem with darkroom techniques like dodging, burning, contrast or softening tools, etc. Or even with digital manipulation if that’s how it’s labeled. But to misrepresent your work in a way the public believes to be true goes against the ideology behind his work. Gursky on the other hand, while he doesn’t reveal the step-by-step process of his pictures, does say there is digital alteration and manipulation present in his work. Does it make it any less respectable? No, because it’s there for us to take into account and put into the context of his ideas and the respective images he creates from those ideas. Photographs are after all constructs of ideas that originate in less tangible forms.

Stay tuned on how this plays out in this most coveted of environmental photography prizes.

Prix Pictet Shortlist: Photographic Award in Sustainability

July 31, 2008

The Prix Pictet is a major new global prize in photography that focuses on perhaps the greatest single issue of the twenty-first century: sustainability. Over 40 nominators consisting of well known and esteemed gallerists, curators, directors, and editors nominated well over 200 photographers spanning 43 countries for this award, which is generally seen as the highest there is in terms of photography and the environment. 18 photographers were shortlisted by a group of highly regarded judges, including the work of Mary Mattingly, a former class mate of mine from Parsons School of Design. The photographers chosen have produced work of great significance and importance, focusing on urgent environmental issues. The prize awarded will be $100,000 for the winning photographer, as well as shortlisted artist offered a commission worth $40,000 to produce a water related project. To download the official press release please click here.

Shortlisted artists are:

Benoit Aquin
Edward Burtynsky
Jesus Abad Colorado
Thomas Joshua Cooper
Sebastian Copeland
Christian Cravo
Lynn Davis
Reza Deghati
Susan Derges
Malcolm Hutcheson
Chris Jordan
Carl De Keyzer
David Maisel
Mary Mattingly
Robert Polidori
Roman Signer
Jules Spinatsch
Munem Wasif

Each of these shortlisted photographers will be invited to show their work at the Palais de Tokyo in October and run through November, after which the show will be begin a world tour. Take a look at some of the images of each artist. They are powerful, devastating, beautiful, and extraordinary, all at the same time. I highly recommend reading the press release to find out more about each individual artist and their background, as well as the prize and how it’s come about. For me, to see a group of photographs whom I literally think of as the best in the world, competing for a prize that can have no better aim than sustainability in our world and communication into the devastating affects of climate change, I say, it’s about time.

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Chris Jordan: Remains of a business, St. Bernard Parish
Series: In Katrina’s Wake: Portraits of Loss from an Unnatural Disaster

To visit the Prix Pictet site please visit www.prixpictet.com