American Photographers Win the Prix Pictet 2011


Photo: with permission of Prix Pictet: Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia 2004

The Prix Pictet has to be the most interesting photography prize going. Awarding a generous $77,000 to the winner, it is only the third year running for this international competition that focuses on sustainability and the environment.

This year's theme is growth and the winner, Mitch Epstein, was way ahead of our times with his terrifyingly prescient series on American Power. The other winner is Chris Jordan who will be working with the Tusk Trust in Africa.

coal plant photo

Photo: with permission of Prix Pictet: Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio 2003

Mitch Epstein is an American photographer whose work is concerned with the relationship between consumerist society in USA and the consequences of unbridled consumption. This series, called American Power, is the result of a 5-year-long study of the role of energy in America. Covering 25 states, Epstein photographed images of suburban houses with energy providers looming in the background.

In the light of the tragedy in Japan his explanation of his work seems prophetic in the extreme:

I wanted to photograph the dangerous trinity of corporate power, consumerist advertising, and citizens who believe the old American dream that improving your lot means having more and using more. American Power is an active response to the American Dream gone haywire.

prix jordan photo

Photo: with permission of Prix Pictet: Midway, CF010533, 2010

Chris Jordan is a corporate lawyer turned photographer/artist with a strong social message. His work may be familiar to TreeHuggers because he has been photographing environmental issues for years. He has depicted the ravages of the oceans, and the aftermath of the Katrina hurricane as well as many photos showing the horrors of mass-consumerism in the world.


Photo: with permission of Prix Pictet: Midway, CF000478, 2009

With this prize, he will be working with the Tusk Trust in Africa which will focus on supporting the Nakyprat Conservancy, a new community-led initiative in Kenya. It is responsible for the development of forty different programmes of conservation and sustainable community development in seventeen African countries. He will get a field trip to Kenya and develop a photographic response to his experiences there.

More on Prix Pictet
Chris Jordan Takes Shots of Trash
Chris Jordan Plays the Number Game
Prix Pictet , Sustainable Photography Prize, Short List Announced.

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