Photographer Mitch Epstein Wins $100K Prix Pictet

From left, “Gavin Coal Power Plant, Cheshire, Ohio 2003” and “Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond City, West Virginia 2004” from Mitch Epstein’s “American Power” series

New York-based photographer Mitch Epstein is the winner of the third Prix Pictet. Sponsored by Swiss bank Pictet & Cie and with a purse of 100,000 Swiss francs (approximately $110,000, at current exchange), the entry-by-nomination international photography competition seeks to promote sustainability. This year’s theme was “Growth.” Epstein’s “American Power” project, collected in a 2009 book published by Steidl, was chosen by a jury that included art historian and critic Michael Fried and photographer Nadav Kander, who won the Prix Pictet in 2009.

“The Prix Pictet jury were looking for photography that met three criteria: artistic excellence, powerful story-telling related to the theme of the award, and a coherent series of images with narrative power,” according to a statement read by jury chair Sir David King yesterday evening in Paris, where Kofi Annan was on hand to announce the winner. “Epstein’s epic, beautifully realized photographs employ a vantage point that is so perfect as to subtly disorientate you, while at the same time delivering a message of great power.”

The twelve photographers shortlisted for the Prix Pictet included Edward Burtynsky, Stéphane Couturier, Taryn Simon, Thomas Struth, and Chris Jordan, who was awarded the $40,000 Prix Pictet Commission. The Seattle-based photographer will travel to Kenya and produce a series of photographs to bolster the work of the Nakuprat Conservancy, a Kenyan community conservancy project of the Tusk Trust. An exhibition of work shortlisted for Prix Pictet is on view through April 16 at the Passage de Retz in Paris. Go here for an online preview.