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Prix Pictet’s Confinement and Hope

Prix Pictet’s Confinement and Hope

As we soak up regained freedom of movement and the joy of wandering around reopened galleries, the more time-starved art lovers amongst us should note there are still some brilliant works being showcased online. Two such must-see’s are thanks to Prix Pictet.

Image: By Ross McDonnell for ‘Confinement’

‘Confinement’ started as a series of commissions in partnership with The Guardian before being developed into a book. An impressive 43 previously shortlisted photographers, from 20 different nations, have contributed their personal responses to the COVID-19 crisis and they’re now being presented as Prix Pictet’s latest digital exhibition, which also features additional unseen works. The compelling imagery and words move “beyond emerging clichés and point to a way forward”.

Meanwhile, ‘Hope’ – the theme of the eighth cycle of Prix Pictet – also continues to be celebrated online. The exhibition has been on tour around the globe and is on show at the Palazzo della Gran Guardia in Verona until 23 May.

Some personal favourites include: Janelle Lynch’s ‘Another Way of Looking at Love’, an exploration of the interconnectedness of all lifeforms’; and Margaret Courtney-Clarke’s ‘Cry Sadness into the Coming Rain’. In the latter, two women dance in beautiful dresses, at a roadside beyond a colourfully-decorated tree, where they make a living selling from their stall to passers-by. The positive energy is almost tangible.

“The existential world of the people I photograph is located in an unforgiving environment where life is precarious: little or no rain, scarce water and food, people abandoned by their government and forced to migrate to flee the emptiness…Their only anchor is the expectation that life will persist against these odds,” explains Margaret Courtney-Clarke.

Image: Margaret Courtney-Clarke’s ‘Life is Them’ (2017), from her series, ‘Cry Sadness into the Coming Rain’

Hope is a fundamental aspect of Prix Pictet, the leading award which “aims to harness the power of photography… to draw global attention to issues of sustainability, especially those concerning the environment”.

In the words of Kofi Annan, Honorary President of the Prix Pictet, in 2017: “Perhaps in our ability to carry on in adversity lies hope for us all. Hope that, despite the catastrophic damage that we have visited upon the natural world and upon the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, it is not too late to reverse the damage that we have done.”

Image: Janelle Lynch’s ‘For You’ from her series, Another Way of Looking at Love’

The current and ninth cycle of the award is ‘Fire’, for which the shortlist will be presented this July at the Rencontres d’Arles, followed by the announcement of the Laureate in December, at the opening of the award exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Follow Prix Pictet to explore the current digital exhibition, listen to the insightful podcasts and join virtual guided tours announced via their social media channels: @prix_pictet