Kofi Annan, Nobel Laureate and former Secretary General of the United Nations, has awarded this years prestigious Prix Pictet
photography prize for environmental sustainability to British based photographer Nadav Kander and a photography commission to American photographer Ed Kashi at the Passage de Retz, Paris.
The Prix Pictet is an annual search for photographs that communicate powerful messages of global environmental significance under a broad theme. This year that theme is earth. Nadav Kander was nominated for his series of photos, "Yangtze, The Long River Series, 2006-07", documenting the rapidly changing landscape and communities of Chinas Yangtze River, from its mouth to source.
The photographers were selected from a shortlist of twelve of the worlds leading photographers: Darren Almond, Christopher Anderson, Sammy Baloji, Edward Burtynsky, Andreas Gursky, Naoya Hatakeyama, Nadav Kander, Ed Kashi, Abbas Kowsari, Yao Lu, Edgar Martins and Chris Steele-Perkins.
Making the formal presentation at an awards dinner at the Passage de Retz in Paris, Kofi Annan, honorary president of the Prix Pictet said that the photographs were a compelling call for action to tackle climate change, the most serious humanitarian and environmental challenge facing the world today:
Only weeks separate us from the decisive negotiations on climate change in Copenhagen. We are confronted with the vital need to prepare the political momentum necessary for a fair and effective post-Kyoto agreement. The images in front of us remind us of the fragility of our planet and the damage we have already done. When we see these photographs we cannot close our eyes and remain indifferent. Through our actions and voices, we must keep building the pressure to secure urgent action at Copenhagen and beyond.
Ivan Pictet, Vice President Pictet & Cie said: "In only its second year, the Prix Pictet has established itself as one of the most important prizes in its field. While in naming Nadav Kander the Judges have chosen a very worthy winner, such was the quality of the field that any one of the twelve photographers on the Shortlist could have made it."
He added, "On behalf of the Partners of Pictet; I am delighted to announce that we have selected Ed Kashi as the photographer to fulfil Pictet's annual commission related to our charitable activities, this year in Madagascar, a country with a remarkable ecological heritage under threat and one of the poorest countries on earth."
Each year Pictet & Cie supports the work of a charity whose work mirrors the theme of the prize. For 2009 Pictet & Cie will support Azafady, a UK-based charity and Malagasy-registered NGO. Specifically Pictet & Cie will support Azafadys Voly Hazo project that aims to preserve the earth from degredation and the eventual desertification that is seen so widely in Madagascar with a program of tree planting and preservation of the natural forest.
Ed Kashi has been commissioned to visit Madagascar with the Azafady team in order to produce a series of photographs that will highlight many of the issues that Azafady are focusing on in this unique and endangered environment. An exhibition of the work made for the commission will launch the 2010 prize in the Spring 2010.
Mark Jacobs, Director of Azafady UK said Madagascars extraordinary biodiversity stems from the islands long isolation from other landmasses. With over 80 per cent of its plant and animal wildlife found only on this island it is as important as protected areas like the Galapagos Islands. But this unique ecosystem is under threat and poverty is playing a large part in the destruction of the countrys natural environment. While international attention often focuses on the needs of mainland Africa, the island of Madagascar is rarely thought of. We are therefore delighted that Pictet & Cie have decided to support the work of Azafady.
Francis Hodgson, Chair of the Judges said The quality of the entry this year has been exceptional. It has been an honor and a pleasure to try to find a winner from among so many outstanding candidates. The shortlisted photographers set the Jury an immense problem and I am grateful to my fellow judges for their insight, expertise and good humor. The photographers determination to be heard is the foundation of everything that the Prix Pictet can achieve. As a result of their great skill the Prix Pictet goes from strength to strength. Although only in its second year it has clearly now found its niche as the worlds premier prize in its sector. The environmental issues which it seeks to address are vital to all of us. That of course only adds to the fascination of being involved.
The prize is complemented by Earth, the book of the 2009 prize. Earth is published by teNeues and includes the work of the 12 shortlisted artists and others nominated for the 2009 prize. All speak of the harmful and often irreversible effects of exploiting the earths resources and reflect on the immediate and long-term impact of unsustainable development on communities across the globe. The full portfolios of each shortlisted artist will be shown at the Passage de Retz gallery in Paris from October 23 to November 24. The Prix Pictet will tour to further international venues from late 2009 to early 2010. Venues confirmed for the tour include: the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai and the Eindhoven University of Technology. The Prix Pictet Secretariat is currently reviewing proposals from several major international galleries.
Prix Pictet will collaborate with FIAC (October 22 - 25), Paris major International Contemporary and Modern Art Fair, and Paris Photo, the worlds leading event for photography (November 19 - 22).