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Prix Pictet - the world's photography award for environmental sustainability - announces 2009 shortlist

Iran's Abbas Kowsari is among the shortlisted photographers

A shortlist of twelve outstanding international photographers, from which one will be selected later this year to receive the Prix Pictet, the world's photography prize for environmental sustainability, was announced today (9 July) at Europe's leading photography festival, Les Rencontres d'Arles in France.  

The prize is supported by Swiss bank Pictet & Cie. Photographers shortlisted for the 60,000 (CHF100,000) first prize are:

Darren Almond, UK; Christopher Anderson, Canada; Sammy Baloji, Congo; Edward Burtynsky, Canada; Andreas Gursky, Germany; Naoya Hatakeyama, Japan; Nadav Kander, South Africa; Ed Kashi, USA; Abbas Kowsari, Iran; Yao Lu, China; Edgar Martins, Portugal; and Chris Steele-Perkins, UK.

Abbas Kowsari (Iran, 1970): Nominated for Shade of Earth, 2007-08

Shade of Earth
Series: Shade of Eart
Digital Chromogenic Colour Print
Talaiye, South of Iran

Artist statement:
Shade of Earth: 2007-8
Every year, hundreds of thousand Iranians visit the fronts of the Iran -Iraq war (1980-1988) during their New Year (Noruz) holiday, in the last week of March.

This trip is called ' Rahian-e Noor', or, Caravan of Light.

The pilgrims, often family members of those who died, travel with buses from all over the country to visit the places where the fighting was the heaviest. Iran lost over half a million soldiers during the eight year trench war with neighbouring Iraq.

Date and Place of Birth: March 17, 1970, Iran
Key Education Dates: 1988 Diploma; Shariati High school, Tehran
City/location where you live and work: Tehran, Iran

Abbas Kowsari has worked for over ten leading Iranian newspapers, most of them now banned from publishing. He currently works as the senior photo editor for E'temad newspaper in Tehran.

His photos have been published in Paris Match, Der Spiegel and Colors magazine of Benetton, along with several other international publications.

View biographies and photos of all shortlisted photographers at

The Prix Pictet is an annual search for photographs that communicate powerful messages of global environmental significance under a broad theme. This year the theme is 'earth'. A Mexican garbage dump where people forage to sustain a pitiful existence; the changing landscape and displaced communities of China's Yangtze River; the devastating impact of oil production in the Niger Delta; and the annual pilgrimage to the desert fronts of the Iran-Iraq war are among the subjects that feature in the work of this year's shortlisted artists.

The submissions speak of the harmful and often irreversible effects of exploiting the earth's resources and reflect on the immediate and long-term impact of unsustainable development on communities across the globe.

The shortlisted works will be previewed at Purdy Hicks Gallery in London from 5 to 7 October, in Geneva from 24 to 29 September and at Passage de Retz gallery in Paris from 23 October to 24 November 2009.

'Earth', a book cataloguing the work of both the shortlisted photographers and powerful images produced by a number of other Prix Pictet nominees will accompany this year's prize. Published by teNeues, the book launches on 6 October at Purdy Hicks Gallery.

The winner will be announced by Kofi Annan, honorary president of the Prix Pictet, on 22 October 2009 at the Passage de Retz gallery. A further award, in the form of a commission for one of the shortlisted photographers to visit a region where Pictet & Cie are currently supporting a sustainability project, will be announced at the same time.

Prix Pictet will collaborate with FIAC (22 - 25 October), Paris' major international contemporary and modern art fair, and Paris Photo, the world's leading event for photography (19 - 22 November).

The Prix Pictet will tour to further international venues from late 2009 to early 2010. Venues confirmed for the tour include: the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai and the Eindhoven University of Technology. The Prix Pictet Secretariat are currently reviewing proposals from several major international galleries.

An independent jury of seven leading figures from the worlds of the visual arts and the environment, chaired by the  CONTACT _Con-3F646D9AB5 \c \s \l Financial Times photography critic, Francis Hodgson, made the selection from over 300 nominations put forward by the seventy Prix Pictet nominators - a group that includes leading critics, practitioners and curators.

Francis Hodgson, chair of the judges said 'The artistic and technical quality of the entries from photographers around the world has been quite exceptional and the power of the messages the photographers have been able to communicate is extraordinary. The brief - to communicate sustainability issues through photography, with particular reference to this year's theme of 'earth' - has been interpreted with tremendous variety and vigour. Whether reporting in detail on development or aiming more broadly to stimulate thought, the photographers have achieved a very high level of impact. I and the other members of the panel look forward with keen anticipation to selecting the winner of this exciting and prestigious prize.'

Nicolas Pictet, Partner of Pictet & Cie, said 'The calibre of the shortlisted work for this second year of the Prix Pictet illustrates how the issue of sustainability resonates throughout the artistic community. We strongly believe that by bringing these images to the attention of the world, Prix Pictet will further highlight the devastating effect climate change is having on our planet and ensure sustainability remains at the heart of global policy making.'

Michael Benson, Prix Pictet Secretariat said 'Over the past forty years, Les Rencontres d'Arles has played a major part in celebrating photography in all of its forms. It has been an important showcase for the work of established and emerging artists and, like the Prix Pictet, is as at home with fine art photography as it is with photojournalism. We have chosen to announce the shortlist here because the festival demonstrates a concern for global issues and a confidence in the ability of photography to communicate powerful messages that is shared by the Prix Pictet.'

Awarding the inaugural Prix Pictet to Canadian photographer Benoit Aquin last October, Kofi Annan said: 'It is my hope that the Prix Pictet will help to deepen understanding of the changes taking place in our world and raise public awareness about the urgency of taking preventative action.'

Visitor information for Prix Pictet 2009 exhibitions 

'Prix Pictet 2009: Earth'

Purdy Hicks Gallery | 65 Hopton Street | Bankside | London SE1 9GZ

5 to 7 October 2009: 10am - 6pm

+44 (0) 20 7401 9229 | | |


'Prix Pictet 2009: Earth'

Passage de Retz | 9 rue Charlot | 75003 Paris

23 October to 24 November 2009

Monday - Friday: 10am - 7pm | Saturday & Sunday: 10am - 8pm

+33 (0) 1 48 04 37 99 | | |

For details of 2010 international touring venues visit

... Payvand News - 07/13/09 ... --

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