The 2009 Prix Pictet Shortlist

Food riots. Loss of forest cover. Desertification. The ecosystems we depend on appear to face resource demands already beyond their capacity. As governments try urgently to stimulate growth, a central question remains. Can the earth’s complex living systems sustain the future consumption patterns of another three billion people in the world’s population by 2050?

Sponsored by the Geneva private bank Pictet & Cie, the Prix Pictet is the world’s first prize dedicated to photography and sustainability. It has a unique mandate – to use the power of photography to communicate crucial messages to a global audience; and it has a unique goal – art of the highest order, applied to the immense social and environmental threats of the new millennium.

The Black Snapper provides excellent coverage of the 2009 Prix Pictet Shortlist with slideshows, jointly presented with the Prix Pictet, of each photographer’s work:

Darren Almond: Fullmoon

Since 1998, Almond has been making a series of landscape photographs called the Fullmoons. Taken during a full moon with an exposure time of 15 minutes or more, these images of remote geographical locations appear ghostly, bathed in an unexpectedly brilliant light where night seems to have turned into day.

Christopher Anderson: Capitolio

For the last five years, I have been returning to Latin America to explore the cycle of consumption, destruction, violence and political turmoil that ebbs and flows with the price of oil. These pictures are excerpted pages of the resulting book, Capitolio, which is published in 2009 by Editorial RM.

Sammy Baloji: Memory

Sammy Baloji’s images are not merely glances at that reality, but photomontages that merge ancient black and white photos of mines of Union Minière du Haut Katanga with contemporary colour images of actual mines and devastated landscapes.

Edward Burtynsky: Quarries

Open-pit mines, funnelling down, were to me like inverted pyramids. Photographing quarries was a deliberate act of going out to try to find something in the world that would match the kinds of forms that were in my imagination but unseen in real life — the idea of inverted skyscrapers.

Andreas Gursky

From a distance the work appears abstract, and, with its colourful spots, recalls the drippings of the action paintings by Jackson Pollock. While approaching details become noticeable: logos give away the former content of the empty cans and cardboard boxes and at the same time testify the power of the global markets that allow Pepsi and Coke bottles to await their decomposition at garbage dumps all over the world.

Naoya Hatakeyama: Various Work

His photographic works examine, in a serial manner, the city; it’s past, present and future. Experimenting formally, Hatakeyama utilizes the vocabulary of photography to reflect, more generally, upon the relationship between humans and their environment.

Nadav Kander: Yangtze, The Long River

After several trips to different parts of the river, it became clear that what I was responding to and how I felt whilst being in china was permeating into my pictures; a formalness and unease, a country that feels both at the beginning of a new era and at odds with itself. China is a nation that appears to be severing its roots by destroying its past in the wake of the sheer force of its moving “forward” at such an astounding and unnatural pace. A people scarring their country and a country scarring its people.

Ed Kashi: Curse of the Black Gold

Curse of the Black Gold recounts the daily life of the Niger Delta’s inhabitants and the conditions in which they live. From the impoverished villages of Bayelsa state, to the pot-holed streets of Port Harcourt, to the gleaming offshore oilrigs in the Atlantic Ocean, the work provide glimpses into the disparity and despair of the region.

Abbas Kowsari: Shade of Earth

This trip is called ‘ Rahian-e Noor’, or, Caravan of Light. The pilgrims, often family members of those who died, travel with buses from all over the country to visit the places where the fighting was the heaviest. Iran lost over half a million soldiers during the eight year trench war with neighbouring Iraq.

Yao Lu: The Visage of China

Generally speaking, my works use the form of traditional Chinese painting to express the face of China. Today China is developing dramatically and many things are under constant construction. Meanwhile many things have disappeared and continue to disappear. The rubbish dumps covered with the ‘shield’, a green netting, are a ubiquitous phenomenon in China.

Edgar Martins: The Diminishing Present

It is hard to believe that representations of ruin could be so seductive—this is especially true of those photographs shot along a creek, where the vivid greens of vegetation are just being invaded by flame, which drips off the riverbank and is reflected in the water.

Chris Steele-Perkins: Fuji

Nowadays, Mount Fuji is a national park but it is covered in, or surrounded by, theme parks, golf courses, resorts, cities and scrap yards as well as being used as a military testing ground by both the Japanese and American armed forces. At the same time there are still magical areas of great tranquillity, but they are increasingly being eroded.

© Andreas Gursky

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