Beijing, China – The internationally renowned Prix Pictet, a prestigious photography award focusing on sustainability, is set to captivate audiences in Beijing with its “Human” exhibition. Showcasing the powerful works of 12 shortlisted photographers, the exhibition will be held at the prestigious KWM Art Center from May 31st to July 25th, 2024.

A Legacy of Environmental Advocacy Through Art

Established in 2008 by the Swiss Pictet Group, the Prix Pictet leverages the profound impact of photography to raise awareness about critical sustainability issues. Each edition of the award centers around a specific theme, prompting reflection and engagement with a particular facet of environmental concern.

Previous themes have explored water, earth, growth, power, consumption, disorder, space, hope, and fire, each leaving an indelible mark on the global conversation surrounding sustainability.

Exploring “Human”: Our Shared Humanity and Relationship with the World

The tenth cycle of the Prix Pictet centers on the theme “Human,” following the success of the “Hope” exhibition held in Beijing in 2021. The forthcoming exhibition at the KWM Art Center promises an immersive experience, presenting compelling works by 12 shortlisted photographers. Their lenses explore the multifaceted theme of “Human,” offering diverse and thought-provoking perspectives on our shared humanity and our complex relationship with the natural world.

The shortlisted works span a spectrum of photographic genres – documentary, portraiture, landscape, and explorations of light and photographic processes. They delve into pressing issues, from the plight of indigenous communities and the impact of conflict to the universal experiences of childhood and the devastating consequences of economic decline. They also shed light on the marks left by human habitation and industrial development, gang violence, the unique dynamics of borderlands, and the human face of migration.

Showcasing Diverse Perspectives on the “Human” Experience

The photographers shortlisted for the “Human” cycle include Hoda Afshar (Iran), Gera Artemova (Ukraine), Ragnar Axelsson (Iceland), Alessandro Cinque (Italy/Peru), Siân Davey (UK), Gauri Gill (India), Michał Łuczak (Poland), Yael Martínez (Mexico), Richard Renaldi (USA), Federico Ríos Escobar (Colombia), Vanessa Winship (UK/Bulgaria), and Vasantha Yogananthan (France).

In September 2023, at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the first stop of the “Prix Pictet: Human” global tour, Indian photographer Gauri Gill was announced as the winner of the Prix Pictet. Gill, known for her collaborative approach to photography which she terms ‘active listening,’ has spent over two decades working with marginalized communities in the western desert of Rajasthan, and the last decade collaborating with indigenous artists in Maharashtra.

At the exhibition’s closing, Colombian photographer Federico Ríos Escobar was awarded the inaugural Prix Pictet People’s Choice Award. Escobar’s poignant works capture the heartbreaking realities of South American migrants undertaking perilous journeys through the Darién Gap, a treacherous jungle region between Colombia and Panama. The People’s Choice Award, a new initiative, invites the public to vote for their favorite shortlisted series, fostering deeper engagement with the crucial themes explored by the award.

Through their lenses, photographers like Ragnar Axelsson, who has dedicated over 40 years to documenting the lives, landscapes, and drastic environmental changes impacting indigenous communities in the world’s peripheries, and Alessandro Cinque, who focuses on the lives and disappearing homes of indigenous communities in the Andes, provide a glimpse into the human impact on the environment.

Gauri Gill, through her long-term engagement with communities in Rajasthan’s remote desert areas, captures the joys, struggles, and intimacies of life in these regions. Federico Ríos Escobar, through his work, highlights the plight of South American children forced to endure the perilous journey through the Darién Gap due to their parents’ desperate search for a better life. Michał Łuczak documents the indelible mark left on the landscape of Upper Silesia by the once-thriving mining industry. Gera Artemova’s visual diary, beginning on February 24th, 2022, offers a chillingly intimate perspective on the Russian bombing of her hometown of Kyiv, Ukraine. Vasantha Yogananthan’s work portrays the dreams and despair of children in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Vanessa Winship meticulously captures portraits of schoolgirls in Turkey’s border regions. Hoda Afshar’s work, set against the otherworldly landscapes of the islands of Hormuz, Qeshm, and Hengam in Iran, chronicles the history of wind. Yael Martínez’s photographs, taken after the disappearance of family members in Guerrero, Mexico, victims of everyday violence, offer a poignant reflection on loss and resilience. Richard Renaldi and Siân Davey, through their respective works, find solace and hope in gardens, spaces they present as both metaphors for the human psyche and potential sources of harmony.

A Call for Environmental Awareness and Action

Isabelle von Ribbentrop, Executive Director of the Prix Pictet, expresses the organization’s excitement to return to Beijing, affirming their commitment to sharing top-tier contemporary photography with a global audience. She emphasizes that the shortlisted photographers, through their work, re-evaluate humanity’s role as guardians of our planet, illuminating critical issues within global sustainability, a core concern for the Prix Pictet since its inception 16 years ago. The opportunity to tour China and engage the public with these exceptional works is a privilege, and von Ribbentrop hopes that the exhibition at the KWM Art Center will inspire a shift in environmental consciousness, prompting greater awareness and engagement with sustainability.

Mr. Xiao Yong, International Partner at King & Wood Mallesons and Chairman of the KWM Art Center, states the honor for both King & Wood Mallesons and the KWM Art Center to host the Prix Pictet exhibition. He believes that the exhibition will offer a unique international artistic experience for the Beijing CBD and surrounding communities, conveying crucial messages regarding sustainable development.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Hatje Cantz, an internationally renowned publisher, has released a companion book showcasing the shortlisted photographers’ works, a selection of outstanding entries from a wider pool of nominees, and insightful essays by historian David Christian and writer Meehan Crist. Adding further depth, the book features a special interview with world-renowned documentary photographer Sebastião Salgado and Prix Pictet Director Michael Benson.

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