Image: Gauri Gill, Hanuman Nath with His Daughter and Hem Nath, on Holi Day, Lunkaransar, 1999–ongoing Series: Notes from the Desert, Artwork courtesy the artist and James Cohan, New York
Indian photographer Gauri Gill was last week announced at a ceremony at the V&A as the winner of Human, the tenth cycle of the Prix Pictet. Gill received the 100,000 Swiss Franc prize after being selected from the shortlist of twelve photographers by Prix Pictet’s independent jury. The work of the twelve outstanding photographers shortlisted for the award is exhibited at the V&A until 22 October.
Gill’s work emphasises her belief in working with and through community, in what she calls ‘active listening’. For more than two decades, she has been closely engaged with communities in the desert of western Rajasthan, Northern India and for the last decade with Indigenous artists in Maharashtra.
Her winning series Notes from the Desert began in April 1999 when she set out to photograph village schools in Rajasthan. Having grown up mainly in cities, she soon realised that rural schools were a microcosm of a complex reality she knew nothing about. Visiting the same people and places over decades, she witnessed the whole spectrum of life: drought years and great monsoons; dust storms leading to fevers, and floods leading to the rebuilding of homes; epidemics; overwhelmed hospitals and understaffed schools; festivals, feuds, celebrations, and prayers.
The Prix Pictet is widely acknowledged as the world’s leading award for photography and sustainability. It was founded in 2008 by the Pictet Group with the goal of harnessing the power of photography to draw attention to the critical issue of global sustainability. To date, there have been ten cycles of the award, each with its own theme highlighting a particular facet of sustainability.
Following its time at the V&A the exhibition will embark on a global tour during which it will be shown at leading museums in Bangkok, Dublin, Istanbul, Munich, Nassau, San Diego, Singapore and Stockholm and Zürich
Find out more here. Read Charlotte Jansen’s review of Prix Pictet Human in the Guardian here.