Irish photographer Richard Mosse has won the seventh Prix Pictet photography award, a prize of CHF 100,000 ($101,378 U.S.), for “Heat Maps,” his series of photographs about the refugee crisis in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. The award, which was founded by Swiss private bank Pictet Group, was announced at a ceremony at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum this evening. The award was presented by former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Now in its seventh year, the Prix Pictet is one of the richest prizes for photography.
The Prix Pictet honors a photography project centered on a particular theme related to sustainability. The theme for the seventh prize was Space, “a deliberately broad theme” that could include a range of subjects and photographic approaches, the Prix Pictet organization said in a statement.
To create “Heat Maps,” Mosse used a military-grade thermographic camera as he documented refugee camps. The camera rendered the landscapes in shades of gray and the people within them a brilliant white. According to Mosse’s project statement, “These images attempt to offer a way of thinking through the ways in which biology and politics have become indistinguishable in the contemporary era, especially in relation to immigration, borders, climate change, free trade, and the camps and liminal spaces where tens of millions of refugees and migrants currently find themselves in limbo, excluded from participating or contributing to our modern societies.”
The other photographers shortlisted for the prize were Sergey Ponomarev, Benny Lam, Munem Wasif, Sohei Nishino, Beate Guetschow, Rinko Kawauchi, Thomas Ruff, Saskia Gronenberg, Michael Wolf, Mandy Barker, and Pavel Wolberg. The work of the shortlisted photographers is currently showing at the Victoria & Albert museum, and will subsequently tour to other venues in New York, Zurich and Stuttgart. TeNeues will also publish a book of the work of the shortlisted artists and others who submitted work for consideration.
Jury members for the seventh Prix Pictet were Victoria & Albert Museum senior curator Martin Barnes; Philippe Bertherat, a former Pictet Group managing partner; photographer and the 2015 Prix Pictet winner Valérie Belin; architect Wang Shu; photographer Sebastião Salgado; economist Dambisa Moyo; Financial Times arts editor Jan Dalley; and the U.K. Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change, Sir David King, who served as chair of the jury.
Previous winners include Belin, Michael Schmidt, Luc Delahaye, Mitch Epstein, Nadav Kander and Benoit Aquin.