Irish photographer Richard Mosse has won the seventh Prix Pictet award, announced by Kofi Annan at the V&A in London. He was selected for his series Heat Maps 2016-17, which documents refugee camps using a military grade thermal camera that detects body heat.
The series focuses on the journey of migrants across Europe, the Middle East and north Africa. The photographer used the camera to scan the sites, creating detailed panoramic thermal images, tracing each camp’s perimeter and “the anthropology of life within”, the results of which jury chair David King calls “brilliantly original and topical”. It was exhibited at the Barbican in London earlier this year.
Noted as the world’s leading award for photography and sustainability, each annual Prix Pictet is based around a theme, for example Growth, Power, and this year Space. It carries a prize of 100,000 Swiss Francs.
New York-based Richard Mosse was one of 12 shortlisted artists including Mandy Barker, Saskia Groneberg, Beate Guetschow, Rinko Kawauchi, Sohei Nishino, Sergey Ponomarev, Thomas Ruff, Munem Wasif, Pavel Wolberg and Michael Wolf.
Kofi Annan said at the ceremony: “Whether they focus on our cities; on the oceans, borders and barricades; on outer space or on the humanitarian crises unfolding across Europe; each of the photographers shortlisted for this cycle of the awards address their subject with a brilliant singularity of vision. Again and again they present us with visions of people carrying on against what are frequently dreadful odds.
“Perhaps in this there is hope. Hope that, despite the catastrophic damage that we have visited on the natural world and on the lives of our most vulnerable fellow citizens, it is not too late for us to reverse the damage we have done – to allow each other the space to think again. For all the havoc they portray, the artists shortlisted for Space have shone a light on this possibility. We would be foolish to ignore their messages.”
The piece will be shown at the V&A from 6–28 May.