Last month 18 of the world’s leading photographers were shortlisted for the Prix Pictet, the first photography award dedicated to sustainability. Can a photograph really help to sustain the planet? According to The Prix Pictet, “It depends on the photograph.”
The contest mobilizes the medium of photography to bring the message of sustainability to the public. At its 2008 launch in London, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland (Special Envoy on Climate Change to the Secretary-General of the United Nations), explained that “The Prix Pictet offers photographers the opportunity to influence change for the good of sustainability.”
Each year the Prix Pictet will focus on a specific sustainability theme and award 100,000 Swiss francs to the photographer who best represents its critical story. The theme for 2008 is water, the world’s most precious resource.
“There has been much talk about climate change. But not much about where we will see its first impact: water. Flooding. Drought. Contamination. Water is the vector of climate change. By 2010 an estimated 40 per cent of the world’s poorest people will lack access to clean water. Two hundred million may be physically or economically displaced. This is not the future. This is now.”
Judges selected their shortlist from 200 nominees hailing from 43 countries. Among the 18 finalists are some of our favorite eco artists like Edward Burtynsky, David Maisel, Chris Jordan, Reza Deghati and Roman Signer.
Without analyzing the sustainable credentials behind each picture, these images give rise to a critique of photography - how physically sustainable can a photograph be? Although we could ponder how ecologically sustainable the methods used to produce such images are, one must appreciate the visible power of such well-crafted, critical visual communication.
The winner of the Prix Pictet award will be announced on 30 October 2008 at a Gala Dinner at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris. Following that all the shortlisted images will be exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo from 30 October - 8 November 2008.