Untitled#9
Untitled#11
My grandmother assisted her sick husband to walk
Khmer Khmer Rouge soldiers took control Phnom Penh
Untitled (Burning I)
Wildfire
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Harness the power of photography

First impressions

To appreciate photography, is it best to form an opinion after a first impression or are explanations required?  The Prix Pictet – Fire cycle photography tour provides an opportunity to answer that question. On display at the Asia Society Hong Kong Center are award-winning images with detailed explanations from the photographers.

What is Prix Pictet?

The Prix Pictet organisation aims to harness the power of photography to draw global attention to issues of environmental sustainability. The Prix Pictet tours each cycle of the award around the world. This tour is on the theme of fire and is the ninth in their eighteen-month cycle. The award is recognised as the world’s leading prize for photography with HK$ 850,000 awarded for a body of work that addresses most powerfully the theme of the award.  

The bodies of work shortlisted for Prix Pictet – Fire draw their inspiration from both major global events and personal experiences. The photographic images span documentary, portraiture, landscape, collage and studies of light and process.

Fabrice Monteiro

Fabrice Monteiro’s photos bring attention to the approximately 40,000 Hectares of forests appearing every year in Senegal. In rural areas, only sixteen per cent of households have electricity which has led to further pressure on wood resources. The result has been deforestation, soil erosion and desertification.

Monteiro travelled to Agbogbloshie, in the heart of Accra, Ghana, to document the conditions of one of the largest electronic waste dumps in Africa. In this area, the poorest classes of Accra have been spending years dismantling, recovering, weighing and reselling parts and metals extracted from electronic waste. The main issue is the burning of electronic cables to extract the copper contained in them. That operation is mostly done by children.

Mak Remissa

Mak Remissa’s Left 3 Days photograph series of paper-cut figures silhouetted against wisps of smoke recreate the aftermath of Khmer Rouge atrocities that occurred when he was a child forced to flee Phnom Penh, Cambodia. They were told by Khmer Rouge they would only need to leave for three days, hence the series title.

Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay is a musician and visual artist. In the 1970s, he pioneered using turntables as musical instruments. More recently he originated a collage of comic book images to create a sound score. His artwork is an assemblage of objects, installations, photographs, prints, paintings, films and sound. Untitled (Burning I) is a still shot from a video recording of the burning of one of his collages.

How to admire a photograph

Admiring a photograph is a subjective affair. The best photographs are not easily interpreted, as that ambiguity provides the opportunity for the image to rise above its context and touch the viewer directly. A clear explanation of meaning removes that ambiguity and the need for any further admiration. But where this doesn’t happen, background commentary has a place. Prix Picket – Fire provides both award-winning photographs and commentaries and so is an admiring opportunity for any curious observer.  

Asia Society Hong Kong Center for the image to rise above its context and touch the viewer directly. A clear explanation of meaning removes that ambiguity and the need for any further admiration. But where this doesn’t happen, background commentary has a place. Prix Picket – Fire provides both award-winning photographs and commentaries and so is an admiring opportunity for any curious observer.       

Text Martin Wray & Prix Pictet / Photos Prix Pictet