Visual Antitheses

Visual Antitheses

Prix Pictet promotes further understanding and discussion on issues of sustainability. Now in its seventh edition, the world-leading award brings together an exceptionally high standard of photography, uniting creative energy with a commitment to political, social and environmental matters. Delving into global issues of overpopulation, migration and marine pollution, the work of 12 international practitioners is showcased in Space at the V&A, London, from 6 to 28 May. Kofi Annan, Prix Pictet’s president, awards the winner with 100,000 Swiss Francs on 4 May.

The exhibition displays a range of subjects explored by a critically acclaimed community of artists. Following the prestige secured from his iconic Infra collection, Richard Mosse (b. 1980) has been shortlisted for a new body of work, Heat Maps. Using a powerful thermal camera, Mosse explores the ongoing journey of migrants across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa – capturing the sheer expanse of refugee camps and illuminating the humanity almost lost amidst the darkened space.

An award-winning photojournalist and frequent contributor to the New York Times, Moscow born Sergey Ponomarev (b. 1980) has also been shortlisted for the award for his dynamic photographs that illustrate the enduring violence and trauma at the heart of the Middle Eastern conflicts. With a portfolio of poignant pictures that depict suffering in the modern world, Ponomarev boldly offers a visual antithesis: the determination of humanity in the face of strife.

The engaging black and white representations of Bangladeshi life captured by Munem Wasif (b. 1983) are also amongst the exciting pieces to be featured. Wasif’s experimental compositions produce starkly realist yet undeniably expressionist images which offer a unique lens into the complex political issues surrounding his nation. His photography has been published in numerous newspapers including The Sunday Times Magazine and The Guardian. In Land of Undefined Territory, Wasif relinquishes a traditional humanist focus, instead favouring a study of landscape, but the empty spaces that are evoked are nevertheless scarred by human and industrial misuse.

British visual artist Mandy Barker (b. 1964) shares Wasif’s interest in humanity’s impact on the environment. Barker combines aesthetic appeal with scientific fact to document the detrimental effects of artificial waste.

The broad theme of Space has allowed both photographers and viewers to engage with the extensive depth and breadth of issues facing today’s climate through a variety of approaches and perspectives. The exhibition visually represents the tumultuous global atmosphere, demonstrating the weight of social and environmental destruction and highlighting that the path to a sustainable future is chaotic, and from some viewpoints, unattainable.

Prix Pictet: Space, runs from 6 to 28 May at the V&A, London.

More information about the full shortlist can be found at: 

1. Michael Wolf, tokyo compression 18. (2010). Courtesy of the artist and Prix Pictet Space.


© Prix Pictet Space