Prix Pictet Shortlist Announced at Les Rencontres d’Arles

The Prix Pictet aims to use the power of photography to raise public awareness worldwide to the social and environmental challenges of the new millennium. This year’s theme is Power, a theme with enormous breadth, embracing contradiction and paradox in equal measure that has uncovered images and issues that are both awe-inspiring and disturbing.

The twelve artists shortlisted for the fourth cycle of the prize were announced this evening in the opening week of the global photography festival, Les Rencontres d’Arles (previewed in the current issue) and we couldn’t wait to share this selection of images with you. I think you will agree, the power and voice harnessed in these images is remarkable. The shortlisted artists will now go on to prepare their work for the finalists’ exhibition to be held at the Saatchi Gallery in London from 10 – 28 October 2012.

Daniel Beltrá (Spain, 1964)
Nominated for series: Spill, 2010
Spill documents the world’s largest marine oil spill which followed the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Beltrá worked off the coast of Louisiana during the oil spill, where more than 600 miles of coastline were affected and show lingering signs of oil and dispersant.

Robert Adams (United States, 1937)
Nominated for series: Turning Back, 1999
Adams’ most recent work Turning Back, documents the mass deforestation of the American Northwest, where more than 90% of the original forest has been clear-cut at least once, and efforts to restrict clear-cutting mostly failed.

Mohamed Bourouissa (Algeria/France, 1978)
Nominated for series: Périphérique, 2006
Périphérique is interested in the territories and issues of the suburbs in France where the artist grew up. Often considered to be the violent border of progressive society, Bourouissa places these suburbs in the field of art, treating them as a visual, conceptual object. His photographs reference historical paintings thus rendering them deeply connected to art history, and places the subjects in the vernacular of the French Revolution, each scene working to address the reality of the prejudices within society.

Philippe Chancel (France, 1959)
Nominated for series: Fukushima: The Irresistible Power of Nature, 2011
Fukushima: The Irresistible Power of Nature is part of the Datazone project. The series was taken less than three months after the tsunami in the Tohoku region of Northwest Japan. He travelled from the line marking the 20km red exclusion zone around the nuclear reactor to the outskirts of Miyako in search of an area left intact. The scale of the devastation caused by the tsunami and its impact recalled aspects of the effects of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, and Chancel recorded the documentary aspects in a quasi-systematic, serial manner.

Edmund Clark (UK, 1963)
Nominated for series: Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out, 2009
Working under military censorship, Clark’s series Guantanamo: If the Light Goes Out, explores the spaces and objects of power and control at Guantanamo Bay.

Carl De Keyzer (Belgium, 1958)
Nominated for series: Moments Before the Flood, 2009-2011
Moments Before the Flood is a visual, photographic investigation into how Europe is coping with the threat of a dramatic rise in the sea level before the end of the century as a result of climate change. The 65,000-kilometre-long coast of Europe is dotted with useless coastal defences from bygone days. Many represent enormous investments in materials and man-hours, but most never served any purpose, either because the “enemy” didn’t show up, or, when the enemy did appear, the construction proved hopelessly outdated.

Luc Delahaye (France, 1962)
Nominated for various works: 2008-2011

Rena Effendi (Azerbaijan, 1977)
Nominated for series: Still Life in the Zone, 2010
In her series Still Life in the Zone, Effendi uses still life images and the prism of Nature Motre to portray the long-term effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. More than 200 people – mostly elderly women – inhabit the 30km Zone of Alienation, living in utter isolation, harvesting food that is unsafe for consumption, burning contaminated logs for warmth, while foraging the Zone’s forbidden forests for radioactive mushrooms and berries.

Jacqueline Hassink (Netherlands, 1966)
Nominated for series: Arab Domains, 2005-2006
Hassink’s series Arab Domains focuses on Arab women business leaders, aiming to reveal a different reality to the stereotypical images of Arab women often seen in the Western media. These women permitted Hassink to photograph their office boardroom tables and their dining tables at home.

An-My Lê (United States/Vietnam, 1961)
Nominated for series: 29 Palms, 2003-2004
29 Palms depicts United States Marines preparing for deployment play-act scenarios in a virtual Middle East in the California desert.

Joel Sternfeld (United States, 1944)
Nominated for series: When It Changed, 2007
In November of 2005 Sternfeld went to Montreal, Canada to attend the 11th United Nations Conference on Climate Change, and took photographs of the participants at moments when the horror of what they were hearing about ecological collapse was most visible on their faces. These portraits are presented in his series and publication When it Changed.

Guy Tillim (South Africa, 1962)
Nominated for series: Congo Democratic, 1997-2006
Tillim’s series Congo Democratic trace some aspects of the individuals and institutions that have been in power in the Congo, against the recent UN-sponsored elections.

1. Oil Spill #1 A plume of smoke rises from a burn of collected oil. A total of 411 controlled burns were used to try to rid the Gulf of the most visible surface oil. © Daniel Beltrá, Prix Pictet Ltd
2. Near Clatskanie, Columbia County, Oregon ©Robert Adams, Prix Pictet Ltd
3. Le Reflet © Mohamed Bourouissa, Prix Pictet Ltd
4. Rikusentakata_GPS_39° 1’ 14’’ N 141° 37’23‘’E-2011-06-13_03 :48 :35 G.M.T © Philippe Chancel, Prix Pictet Ltd
5. Camp One, exercise cage © Edmund Clark, Prix Pictet Ltd
6. England © Carl De Keyzer, Prix Pictet Ltd
7. Les Pillards © Luc Delahaye, Prix Pictet Ltd Courtesy Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels
8. Gas masks scattered on the floor of a school lobby in the abandoned city of Prypiats. As a result of the nuclear accident and the subsequent radioactive fallout the entire population of Prypiats had been evacuated and never returned home. © Rena Effendi, Prix Pictet Ltd
9. Elham M. Zeadat General Manager and Owner of BLOOM Dead Sea Gift Enterprise © Jacqueline Hassink, Prix Pictet Ltd
10. Embassy Medevac © An-My Lê, Prix Pictet Ltd
11. Stéphane Dion, Minister of the Environment, Canada © Joel Sternfeld, Prix Pictet Ltd
12. The statue of the explorer Henry Morton Stanley which overlooked Kinshasa in colonial times. It rests on a steamboat that belonged to the African International Association, a company publicly charged by Leopold II with a philanthropic and ‘civilising’ mission that veiled its true purpose of annexing and exploiting natural resources. The statue was removed during the Mobutu period of Africanisation in the 1970s and dumped in a government transport lot in Kinshasa © Guy Tillim, Prix Pictet Ltd