The 2021 shortlist for Prix Pictet: Fire has been announced

From Paris to the Amazon, fire has been a recurring feature in the news over the last couple of years. As the theme for the ninth instalment of the Prix Pictet, it serves as a timely topic for discussion.

12 July 2021


The shortlist for the ninth cycle of the Prix Pictet, the global award in photography and sustainability, has been announced. 13 photographers from eight different countries have been selected, including Sally Mann, Daisuke Yokota, David Uzochukwu, and Rinko Kawauchi, among others. Works from each will be exhibited at the V&A Museum in London on 15 December 2021, at which point a winner will be announced. The chosen photographer will be awarded 100,000 Swiss francs as well as seeing their work, along with the work of the other shortlisted photographers, toured around the world to over a dozen countries.

Often regarded as the leading prize for photography, each of the Prix Pictet’s now nine cycles have revolved around a single theme, with a global selection of photographers being invited to respond to the topic and to promote “discussion and debate on issues of sustainability”. The theme for this cycle was Fire, which, according to the organisation’s founder Stephen Barber, “has hardly been out of the news since the inferno that consumed Notre Dame in Paris in early 2019.” He goes on to say: “We have seen record rainforest blazes in the Amazon, forest and bush fires in Australia and conflagrations in California. It is the fourth element. Fire destroys and it renews. Fire means survival, renewal, and economic prosperity. Yet our abuse of this most capricious of elements is the source of most of our environmental woes.”


Mak Remissa: Depiction of Khmer Rouge soldiers taking control of Phnom Penh capital city in 1975 (Copyright © Mak Remissa, 2015)

The shortlisted responses to the theme are wide-ranging, with some displaying a photojournalistic approach and others an experimental one. From Sally Mann’s photographs of charred landscapes in the Great Dismal Swamp – a visual metaphor for racial strife in America – to Daisuke Yokota’s documentation of the burning of a large-scale installation of his prints, each selected work offers a unique perspective on Fire.

The submissions for this Prix Pictet cycle were judged by an independent jury of eight including Sir David King, founder of the Centre for Climate Repair at the University of Cambridge; Duncan Forbes, Department of Photography Director at the V&A Museum; and Joana Choumali, previous winner of the Prix Pictet in 2019. Together the jurors reviewed portfolios from over 300 artists whose work “exhibited a remarkably diverse set of responses to the theme of Fire, in a year that has been critically important for global sustainability.”


Sally Mann: Blackwater 3 (Copyright © Sally Mann, 2012)


Daisuke Yokota: Untitled (Copyright © Daisuke Yokota, 2016)


David Uzochukwu: Wildfire (Copyright © David Uzochukwu, 2015)


Rinko Kawauchi: Hanabi (Copyright © Mark Ruwudel, 2001)


Mark Ruwudel: La Tuna Canyon Fire/Beekeeper (Copyright © Mark Ruwudel, 2017)


Fabrice Monteiro: Propechy #11 (Copyright © Fabrice Monteiro, 2014)


Lisa Oppenheim: Billowing (Copyright © Lisa Oppenheim, 2013)


Christian Marclay: Untitled (Burning I) (Copyright © Christian Marclay, 2020)


Brent Stirton: Ragini Kumari, 10, burnt by a kerosene fire when she was 2 (Copyright © Brent Stirton, 2013)


Carla Rippey: Fire (Copyright © Carla Rippey, 2010)

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Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige: Wonder Beirut, the story of a pyromaniac photographer (Copyright © Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, 2010)

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About the Author

Daniel Milroy Maher

Daniel joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in February 2019 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. He graduated from Kingston University with a degree in Journalism in 2015. He is also co-founder and editor of SWIM, an annual art and photography publication.

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