From the series American Power, ©Mitch Epstein
The prize is awarded for the most successful use of photography to tackle social and environmental issues and comes with a £65,000 (CHF 100,000) grant. Now in its third year, Prix Pictet 2010 focused around the theme of "growth".
American photographer and filmmaker, Epstein was commissioned to document an erasure of a small town in Ohio back in 2003, after the American Electric Power company bought the town. He recalls: "I was not the same after the trip," which inspired Epstein to embark on a five-year-long, twenty-five-state project to examine the role of energy in the United States. "Growth no longer meant progress but self-destruction," he adds, and his project is a response to "the American Dream gone awry."
The Prix Pictet jury is made up of "eight photographic experts" from the worlds of art and environmental activism. Epstein was selected from more than 450 entrants, alongside seven other nominees - Christian Als, Edward Burtynsky, Stéphane Couturier, Yeondoo Jung, Vera Lutter, Nyaba Leon Ouedraogo, Taryn Simon, Thomas Struth, Guy Tillim, Michael Wolf and Chris Jordan.
Jordan, also a US photographer, received the Prix Pictet commission, which will see him carry out a photography project on location with the Tusk Trust conservation charity thanks to a €30,000 grant.
Jordan won the commission on the basis of his project Midway: Message from the Gyre, in which he documented the plastic-filled carcasses of dead baby albatrosses on Midway Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. He says his images were conceived "to draw the viewer intimately into the horrors of global mass-consumerism, reminding us of the consequences of allowing growth to extend, unchecked, to every corner of the globe."
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