Prix Pictet: Disorder, perfectly ordered

The Prix Pictet, founded by Pictet Group (an AML client) in 2008, is the world’s leading prize in photography and sustainability. Each competition has a theme, open to the interpretation of outstanding artists in confronting today’s most pressing social and environmental challenges. A perfectly-curated global exhibition has just begun its tour, at Somerset House in London.


Shortlisted entries range from Ori Gersht’s reminder of the fragility of beauty in a series of detonating flowers, echoing the ordered still lifes of nineteenth-century painters; through to the seemingly-current reportage of Sophie Ristelhueber’s images of bomb craters in Iraq – which are in reality collages of many different images.

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AML loved Gideon Mendel’s haunting portraits in flooded villages; Matthew Brandt’s moving gum-bichromates of doomed honey bees; and Yang Yongliang’s epic, supremely detailed yet wholly fake wonderlands, simultaneously soaring landscapes and visions of hell. Maxim Dondyuk has transformed massed Ukrainian riot police into warriors from a battle of legend.

Riot police began to storm Maidan after clashes on Shelkovichna street. Kiev, Feb. 18, 2014. (RUS)Беркут идет штурмом на майдан после столкновения на ул. Шелковчиная.

Ilit Azoulay’s careful composites of macro close ups of buildings undergoing change has produced a stunning series of seemingly-real, yet abstract and multi-faceted commentary on Israel’s own transformation. And winner Valerie Belin has created contemporary still-lifes from discarded, yet immortally non-biodegradable, plastic consumer objects.

Still life with mask

As well as a generous prize, Belin will be invited to to record a region in the world where Pictet is supporting a sustainability project. By turning the focus of leading artists onto social and environmental challenges, the Prix Pictet shows how careful investment can help our stewardship of the planet become more sustainable. Perhaps even creating a new order through disorder.