German photographer Michael Schmidt has won the 2014 Prix Pictet – the prestigious global competition around photography and sustainability that this year focused on consumption.
Schmidt explored the global food industry with a series of photographs on food at all its stages. He presented his work taken in farms, slaughterhouses and supermarkets, to explore the role of consumption and the journey that our food takes from farm to table.
Pictures included shooting in factory farms, a stooping farmer, vacuum-packed mince and glistening fish heads, as well as egg paper box and fruit in the supermarket.
Schmidt beat Adam Bartos, who presented a series on yard sales in the US as a form of opposition to the energy and resource-intensive “Walmartisation of the country”.
Prix Pictet was established in 2008 by the Pictet Group, the Swiss wealth manager that, among other things, runs a series of sustainability-focused investment funds.
According to the Pictet Group, “The award aims to uncover outstanding photography applied to confront the most pressing social and environmental challenges of today.”
This year’s theme was consumption, labelled one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, according to the organisers.
“We are all consumers”, the group added.
“We have invented new forms of building, industrial production, farming and energy; we have emptied the seas and ravaged the land in our relentless drive to satisfy our unquenchable desires.
“We have built vast empires based on luxury goods, creating demand for essentials that we didn’t know we needed. We have sustained this through the sometimes thoughtless exploitation of the world’s poorest people.”
The work of Schmidt and other shortlisted artists will be exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London from May 22 to June 14.
Photo: Manu Mohan via Freeimages