‘Fire’ is the theme for the 9th Prix Pictet; award exhibition to be held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in December 2021

Prix Pictet, the world’s leading prize for photography and sustainability, today announces ‘Fire’ will be the theme of its ninth cycle. The shortlist of photographers will be announced at a special event at Les Rencontres d’ Arles in early July 2021. A major exhibition of work by the shortlisted photographers will be held at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London in December 2021, where the winner of the 100,000 Swiss francs (£85,000) prize will be announced at an awards ceremony on 15 December 2021.

The international jury panel for the ninth Prix Pictet will be chaired by Professor Sir David King, former Government Chief Scientist and founding Chairman of the Centre for Climate Repair at the University of Cambridge. 

Renaud de Planta, Senior Managing Partner of the Pictet Group, said, ‘In the twelve years since we launched the award, two of the greatest threats to life on the planet—excess resource depletion and damaging climate change—have only intensified. Next year, 2021, when the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) meets in Glasgow, will be critical in building on the commitments made at the 2015 Paris Agreement. Our aim with the Prix Pictet is to harness the power of photography to influence government, business and society to work towards a more sustainable future.’ 

Commenting on the theme, Stephen Barber, Chair of the Prix Pictet, said, ‘Fire has hardly been out of the news since the inferno that engulfed Notre Dame in Paris in early 2019. We have since seen record rainforest blazes in the Amazon, forest and bush fires in Australia and conflagrations in California. 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.’

Today’s announcement also launches the second season of the Prix Pictet Podcast, A lens on sustainability, where global photographers, curators, writers and philosophers discuss the intersection of photography and sustainability. The first of six episodes, released today, centres on the new theme, ‘Fire’, featuring former Prix Pictet photographers Daniel Beltrá and Richard Mosse as well as guest speakers Sebastião Salgado and A. C. Grayling.

Speaking about the theme of ‘Fire’, Sebastião Salgado said, ‘The thematic of fire is amazing. When you travel with the Indians, when they go hunting, they bring very few things with them but always the special wood that helps them make fire. They are the bringers of Fire. In Amazonia huge lightning storms bring fire from the sky that can burn vast tracts of forest. That and agricultural burning mean that in Amazonia, fire is also a disaster, a huge disaster that is destroying the biome. It’s one very powerful element that we that need to survive, but if you don’t pay attention, it can also be deadly’. 

The Prix Pictet was founded by the Pictet Group in 2008. Today the award is recognised as the world’s leading prize for photography. On an approximately 18-month cycle each theme aims to provoke discussion and debate on issues of sustainability. The prize of 100,000 Swiss francs (£85,000) is awarded for a body of work that addresses most powerfully the theme of the award. 

The winner of the current cycle, under the theme ‘Hope’, was Joana Choumali from Côte d’Ivoire. The ‘Hope’ exhibition is scheduled to travel to Palazzo della Gran Guardia in Verona, International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, Galleria Carla Sozzani in Milan, the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv and a major museum in Shanghai over the next 12 months. 

‘Prix Pictet: A lens on sustainability’ podcasts can be streamed or downloaded on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or the Prix Pictet website:


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