Wednesday 23 August 2017

Irish photographer Richard Mosse wins the prestigious Prix Pictet competition

Irish photographer Richard Mosse won the 2017 Prix Pictet
Irish photographer Richard Mosse won the 2017 Prix Pictet

Kathy Armstrong

Irish photographer Richard Mosse has won the prestigious Prix Pictet competition.

The Kilkenny native beat off stiff competition from eleven other internationally renowned photographers to scoop the prize, which is worth around €92,000 (100,000 CHF).

The twelve finalists will have their work shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London from today until May 28, when it will then be toured globally.

Richard, who is aged in his 30s, won the Space-themed competition for his work Heat Maps.

MOVING PICTURES: Images from ‘Incoming’, an installation created by Irish photographer Richard Mosse, who used a thermal-imaging camera designed for the military to document Europe’s refugee crisis. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
MOVING PICTURES: Images from ‘Incoming’, an installation created by Irish photographer Richard Mosse, who used a thermal-imaging camera designed for the military to document Europe’s refugee crisis. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Over the space of a year Mosse used an an extreme tele military grade thermographic camera to capture images of refugee camps.

The camera was designed for border surveillance and regulation and can identify people from as far away as 50 kilometers, even in the dark.

It is thought to be an element in advanced weapons systems and the export of it is controlled under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

Read More: Migrant images that sear the soul

The Prix Pictet website says of Mosse's Heat Maps: "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...

"It elicits a sinister and invasive form of imagery, but also occasionally intimate, tending to both dehumanize and then rehumanize the 'bare life' (Agamben) of the human figure of the stateless refugee and illegal economic migrant, which the camera was specifically designed to detect, monitor, and police.

MOVING PICTURE: Images from ‘Incoming’, an installation created by Irish photographer Richard Mosse, who used a thermal-imaging camera designed for the military to document Europe’s refugee crisis. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
MOVING PICTURE: Images from ‘Incoming’, an installation created by Irish photographer Richard Mosse, who used a thermal-imaging camera designed for the military to document Europe’s refugee crisis. Photo: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

"These images attempt to offer a way of thinking through the ways in which biology and politics have become indistinguishable in the contemporary era.

"Especially in relation to immigration, borders, climate change, free trade, and the camps and liminal spaces where tens of millions of refugees and migrants currently find themselves in limbo, excluded from participating or contributing to our modern societies."

The Prix Pictet is understood to be the leading photography competition in the world and is now in its seventh year.

Each year 300 people nominate photographers and an eight-person judging panel pick a shortlist until finally a winner is chosen.

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