Michael Schmidt was awarded the fifth Prix Pictet, a photography prize worth $112,500, in a ceremony this evening at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The award is sponsored by Swiss wealth managers the Pictet Group.
Schmidt was recognized for his long-term project “Lebensmittel,” translated as “food stuff,” which he made between 2006 and 2010. Sir David King, the jury chair, called Schmidt’s project “an epic and hugely topical investigation into the ways in which we feed ourselves,” according to a press release issued by the Prix Pictet organization. The Prix Pictet honors photographers whose work examines critical social and environmental issues, and the theme for this iteration of the prize was “Consumption.”
The shortlisted photographers included Adam Bartos (United States), Motoyuki Daifu (Japan), Rineke Dijkstra (The Netherlands), Hong Hao (China), Mishka Henner (Belgium), Juan Fernando Herrán (Colombia), Boris Mikhailov (Ukraine), Abraham Oghobase (Nigeria), Michael Schmidt (Germany), Allan Sekula (United States) and Laurie Simmons (United States).
Kofi Annan, the former UN secretary-general and honorary president of Prix Pictet, praised the shortlisted photographers for their “powerful images that ought to persuade governments, businesses—and each of us as individual consumers—of the need for a fundamental rethink of the principles on which present-day affluence is founded. The issue of unsustainable consumption, and in particular food and nutrition security, is not simply at the forefront of the global political stage, it is now firmly on the personal agenda of each and every one of us.”
Previous winners include Benoît Aquin, Nadav Kander, Mitch Epstein and Luc Delahaye.
The jury for the fifth Prix Pictet included: Sir King, chairman, UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change (SRCC); Peter Aspden, arts writer, Financial Times; Luc Delahaye, photographer; Fumio Nanjo, director, Mori Art Museum; Loa Haagen Pictet, art consultant & curator; Martin Barnes, senior curator of photographs, Victoria and Albert Museum; Wang Shu, architect; Elisabeth Sussman, curator of photography, Whitney Museum of American Art.
An exhibition of the work of the shortlisted photographers opens tomorrow at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where it will show through June 14, 2014.