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World's Leading Photography Award Launches Third Cycle at Les Rencontres d'Arles
Benoit Aquin, Haiiti 12, 2009. Series: Haiiti. Benoit Aquin © Prix Pictet Ltd.

ARLES.- The third cycle of the Prix Pictet launches at Les Rencontres d’Arles, the world's foremost photography festival, on 8 July 2010. The new cycle will be announced at the Théâtre Antique, Arles, with a special presentation of work by the four Prix Pictet laureates to date. Benoit Aquin's 2010 Haiti project is among the new work to be featured.

The Prix Pictet, conceived and run by the Swiss private bank Pictet & Cie, is the first photography award to provide a global platform for the application of art to the critical issues of global sustainability. Its honorary president is HE Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The main award of CHF100,000 (EUR72,000) is decided by an independent jury of leading figures in the visual arts and sustainability. One of the shortlisted photographers is also commissioned by the partners of Pictet & Cie to undertake a field trip to a region where Pictet is supporting a sustainability project.

In the two years since the prize was established, it has become the world’s leading award for photography and sustainability, reaching an estimated global audience of over 400 million through the media, book publishing and travelling exhibitions.

Sir David King, who chairs the Jury for the third cycle, said, “The Prix Pictet is no longer arriving; it has arrived. Today, there is hardly an artist on the planet who feels too grand to enter. Selecting a winner will be a demanding privilege, but also a great pleasure.”

The theme of the third Prix Pictet is ‘Growth’, in particular the paradox that arises when progress leads to improvements in living standards and health, yet also to unsustainable population growth, aggressive industrialisation and excessive exploitation of arable resources.

Commenting on the theme, Sir David said, “While rapid economic expansion in emerging markets has lifted countless millions out of poverty, there is a darker side to growth that threatens to undermine the very foundations of our civilization. I am confident that the artists nominated will once again draw attention to the deep problems of sustainability. I also hope they will point to some of the solutions.”

Photographer, critic and Prix Pictet nominator Joerg Colberg has recently summed up the raison d'être of the prize, saying, “This is not art for art’s sake, it is art for our own sake.”

Nadav Kander, who won the 2009 award and is now a judge for the prize said that ‘my Yangtze project marked a significant shift in my photographic practice. Over the course of three years I travelled the length of the river and everywhere I went the human consequences of the dizzying pace of development in China were evident. My work arose from a desire to capture the disorienting effects of epic industrial landscapes on the lives and traditions of people and communities. While I did not set out to win prizes, the Prix Pictet was an important and timely validation of this work and has given me the added confidence to pursue similar projects in future.’

Ed Kashi, who gained the 2009 Commission, commented, “Receiving the Prix Pictet Commission has had a profound impact on my work and on my conception of how a visual artist and their work should be treated. The award, while allowing me to produce an important and timely body of work, is accompanied by a tremendous level of support in terms of preparation, distribution and raising public awareness about the art and the issue. In this way, the Prix Pictet is absolutely unique in the world of photography.”

Kander and Kashi recently joined Benoit Aquin and Munem Wasif for the first time for The Prix Pictet Laureates, a one-off show to mark the 25th anniversary of the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland, which opened on 18 June 2010.

Artists are nominated for the Prix Pictet by a global network of nominators, which has been much strengthened for the third cycle of the prize. The group now includes over 130 leading curators, critics and journalists, including representatives from Tate Modern (UK), Istanbul Contemporary (Turkey), Centre for Contemporary Photography (Australia), Foto Arte Brasilia (Brazil), Photo Festival of Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Les Temps (Switzerland), Jeune Afrique, Winterthur Museum of Photography (Switzerland), Academy of Fine Arts (Poland), Reuters News Agency, Aperture Foundation (USA), FotoSeptiembre (USA), George Eastman House (USA), The Globe and Mail (Canada), Beirut Art Center (Lebanon), and the Baibakova Art Projects (Russia).

The independent jury for the third Prix Pictet is chaired by Sir David King (former Chief Scientist to the UK Government and Director of the Smith School of Enterprise and Environment, University of Oxford). His fellow jury members are:

· Shahidul Alam, photographer and curator (founder of the Drik agency, Bangladesh)
· Peter Aspden, Financial Times arts writer
· Michael Fried, art historian and critic
· Loa Haagen Pictet, Art Historian and Curator of Pictet & Cie’s Art Collection
· Nadav Kander, Winner of Prix Pictet 2009
· Christine Loh, CEO of Civic Exchange
· Fumio Nanjo, Director, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

Since 2008, a touring exhibition of shortlisted and commissioned work has extended the global audience for the prize across continents.

Speaking at the opening of Moscow’s Prix Pictet 2009 Earth Exhibition, Olga Sviblova, Director of the Moscow House of Photography said, “This is an outstandingly presented, museum-quality show.”

The Prix has exhibited in Paris, London, Dubai, Thessaloniki, Hong Kong, Geneva, Eindhoven, Bonn, Lausanne, Dresden and Moscow, and will exhibit in Berlin, Milan and Madrid in 2010.

Arles | Prix Pictet | Sir David King |

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