Indian Photographer Gets Rs 90 Lakh For Winning Prix Pictet Photography Award For 'Notes From The Desert'


Rohit Kulkarni

Rohit Kulkarni

Oct 14, 2023


Indian photographer Gauri Gill was declared the winner of the tenth edition of the Prix Pictet, an international photography award focused on sustainability. Gill was awarded a prize of 100,000 Swiss Francs. She emerged as the winner from a shortlist of 12 photographers, as determined by an independent jury.

Indian Photographer Gets Rs 90 Lakh For Winning Prix Pictet Photography Award For  'Notes From The Desert'

Capturing Humanity and Nature: Gauri Gill’s ‘Notes from the Desert’ and the Prix Pictet’s ‘Human’ Theme

Gauri Gill’s work centers on her belief in collaborating with and listening to communities, which she refers to as ‘active listening.’ She has been closely engaged with marginalized communities in the desert of western Rajasthan for over two decades, and in the past decade, she has worked with Indigenous artists in Maharashtra. Her winning series, titled ‘Notes from the Desert,’ captures a wide spectrum of life, from drought years to the year of a significant monsoon, when Barmer transformed into a landscape resembling Kashmir.

Gill’s experiences during her visits to rural Rajasthan revealed a complex reality that she, as a city dweller, was previously unaware of. Living in poverty and without land in the desert necessitates an inescapable reliance on oneself, the community, and nature. These fragments of shared experiences now form a substantial photographic archive known as ‘Notes from the Desert,’ featuring various narratives and diverse forms of image creation.

In a world facing unprecedented challenges, including issues like social inequality and environmental crises, it became crucial to turn the focus towards humanity itself. The introduction of the theme “Human” in July 2022 served as a platform for artists to delve into the complexities, vulnerabilities, and strengths inherent in the human experience. This theme provided a means for artists to capture and convey the stories, hardships, and triumphs of individuals and communities worldwide. Through the “Human” theme, Prix Pictet aimed to nurture a deeper appreciation of our common humanity and stimulate meaningful conversations about the challenges impacting us all. Especially when contemplating the “Human” theme, there is a strong belief that we should shift our perspective from speculating about the future of photography to considering photography for the future. The true power of an image lies in its capacity to bring attention to critical and urgent environmental issues in a visually compelling and straightforward manner.

Reflections on the Tenth Cycle of Prix Pictet – ‘Human’ Theme and Recognition of Gauri Gill

As the Prix Pictet celebrated its tenth cycle, the selection of “Human” as the theme signified a reflection on the journey so far. It encapsulated the prize’s evolution, recognizing the pivotal role of humanity in shaping the discourse on sustainability. The jury evaluated an exceptional group of visual storytellers, each demonstrating a highly distinctive approach to the theme. After a rich debate, the jury unanimously agreed that Gauri Gill was a deserving recipient of the Prix Pictet Human award.

To complement the exhibition, Hatje Cantz published a book titled “Human,” featuring the shortlisted photographers and a selection of exceptional images from a broader group of nominees. The publication also includes essays by historian David Christian and writer Meehan Crist, along with a special interview with photographer Sebastião Salgado, a prominent advocate of humanitarian photography, conducted by Michael Benson, the Director of the Prix Pictet.

At the award ceremony, Prix Pictet unveiled a fresh endeavor called the Prix Pictet People’s Choice Award. This initiative permits the general public to cast their votes for their preferred series among the shortlisted photographers, with the goal of fostering discussions about the vital themes examined by the award. The recipient of the People’s Choice Award will be disclosed at the conclusion of the exhibition, and individuals can participate in the voting process via the Prix Pictet website.

Following its presentation at the Victoria and Albert Museum, the exhibition will embark on a global tour, showcasing at leading museums in Zürich, Istanbul, Dublin, Bangkok, Munich, San Diego, Singapore, and Stockholm.

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Rohit Kulkarni
Rohit Kulkarni
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