On Thursday, Irish photographer Richard Mosse was announced winner of the 2017 Prix Pictet and the $100,000 prize for his work Heat Map (2016-17). Kofi Annan, former secretary general of the United Nations and the president of Prix Pictet, a global award in photography and sustainability, made the announcement at a ceremony at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum.
Consisting of a series of panoramic photos of refugee camps in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Mosse produced the images with a military surveillance camera designed to detect people’s body heat – a device technically classified as a weapon by the International Traffic in Arms Regulations. “The camera translates the world into a heat signature of relative temperature difference, literally reading the biological trace of human life, imperceptive to skin colour. Instead of individuals, it sees the mass,” Mosse said in a statement. “It elicits a sinister and invasive form of imagery, but also occasionally intimate, tending to both dehumanise and then rehumanise the ‘bare life’ (Giorgio Agamben) of the human figure of the stateless refugee and illegal economic migrant, which the camera was specifically designed to detect, monitor, and police.”
An exhibition of works by shortlisted artists Sergey Ponomarev, Sohei Nishino, Rinko Kawauchi, Thomas Ruff and Munem Wasif, along with the Mosse’s winning work, will be on view at the Victoria and Albert Museum until 28 May.
Prix Meret Oppenheim
The Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim, with the recommendation of the Swiss Federal Office of Culture, has been celebrating Swiss talent since 2001 by granting select individuals an award and cash prize of CHF40,000. While it will hold its 2017 award ceremony on 12 June, artist Daniela Keiser, architect Peter Maerkli and curator/author Philip Ursprung have already been announced as winners.
Conceptual artist Daniela Keiser works with photography and language, which she literally translates into different formats. Peter Märkli is one of Switzerland’s highest regarded architects; his work, drawings and teaching follows a philosophy that is historically and socially integrated while also striving to remain independent. Philip Ursprung’s practice is defined by locating and crossing boundaries through a heavily experimental and investigative research focus to open up new intellectual channels.
ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture
Europe Day (9 May) will see four laureates receive the annual award and €20,000 cash prize in Amsterdam. The award follows the European Cultural Foundation’s (ECF) belief that artistic and cultural engagement are critical to political and social development and has been granted since 1954 to individuals who inspire positive change.
This edition's winners include Turkish writer Aslı Erdoğan, German writer and scholar Navid Kermani, Belgian musician Luc Mishalle, and German visual artist Marina Naprushkina. “All of the laureates are committed to striking a chord with people who do not necessarily agree with them - to question presumptions, to listen - and they challenge us to do the same,” said ECF director Katherine Watson in a statement.
Aslı Erdoğan is a writer and columnist who displays humanity in all its fragility. She was detained due to her presence on the advisory board of Özgür Gündem newspaper in August 2016. Although she was released from prison in December 2016, she is unable to leave Turkey until her trial comes to a close.
Novelist, orientalist scholar and journalist Navid Kermani has produced novels, media reports, plays and children’s books that tackle death, rapture and art. His work brings together cultures and religions that are being pushed into opposition to facilitate a collective rethinking of societies and Europe’s future.
Musician, composer and artistic director Luc Mishalle uses his 30 years of experience in jazz and free improvisation to teach and explore crossovers of different musical styles in MET-X, a Brussels-based house of music makers which embraces many communities and generations. His work uses music to shift the discourse from fragmentation towards a universally identifiable language.
Marina Naprushkina, who works under the imaginary Office for Anti-Propaganda, aims to show how art and creative activism can inspire change in the political imagination and create an inclusive social base.