Image from Prix Pictet: Chongqing IV (Sunday Picnic)
The Prix Pictet is the new global photography prize that focuses on sustainability. Sponsored by Pictet & Cie, a Swiss bank, and in its second year, this year's theme is the earth. Last year it was water.
A shortlist was announced in July and the winner is Nadav Kander, an Israeli photographer living in London. He beat out the heavy hitters on the list such as Andreas Gursky and the Canadian Edward Burtynsky. His theme and obsession is the Yangtze River, 4,100 miles long, where "more people live along its banks than live in the USA, one in every eighteen people on the planet."
Images from Prix Pictet: Changxing Island I (Island of Oranges)
Kander is an interesting and controversial choice because he is best known for his commercial work for the likes of Nike, Levi's, and Mercedes. This work is very cool and minimalistic but is still evocative and moving.
He spent time in China and became fascinated with the Yangtze River. He says that it is "embedded in the consciousness of the Chinese, even for those who live thousands of miles from the river. It plays a significant role in both the spiritual and physical life of the people."
He is using the river as a metaphor for change in China since it is the main artery that flows across the country. Over the past decade more than 3 million people have been displaced along a 600 km. stretch of the river for the controversial Three Gorges dam work. This has had an enormous ecological impact on the river. But this is a country that is moving forward at great speed which has caused great social and environmental changes.
A second part of the prize is the awarding of a commission in association with the environmental charity Azafady. This year the American photographer Ed Kashi will be commissioned to visit Madagascar and produce a series of photographs that will highlight many of the issues that Azafady is involved with. Madagascar is suffering from desertification and the charity is working on the promotion of forest management and conservation projects in the local communities.