American Photographer, Sally Mann Wins £82,000 Prix Pictet

Thursday, December 30, 2021
American Photographer, Sally Mann Wins £82,000 Prix Pictet

American artist Sally Mann has been announced as the winner of the 9th Prix Pictet at a ceremony at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. She beats 11 others on the shortlist for global sustainability prize.

American artist Sally Mann has been announced as the winner of the 9th Prix Pictet at a ceremony at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum. The ‘global award in photography and sustainability’ comes with a cash prize of 100,000 Swiss Francs (£82,000).

Mann’s winning series, Blackwater (2008–12), is a layered exploration of the destruction caused by the wildfires that engulfed the Great Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia, drawing a parallel with the site’s history as the land where the first slave ship docked in America. The then densely-forested swamp became, throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a refuge for runaway slaves, who lived in hiding on this inhospitable and hostile land to escape living under bondage. ‘The fires in the Great Dismal Swamp seemed to epitomize the great fire of racial strife in America – the Civil War, emancipation, the Civil Rights Movement, in which my family was involved, the racial unrest of the late 1960s and most recently the summer of 2020,’ Mann explained in a statement. ‘Something about the deeply flawed American character seems to embrace the apocalyptic as solution.’

Born in Lexington, Virginia, Mann studied photography in the late 1960s, receiving her first solo museum exhibition in 1977 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. From the 1990s, she turned her lens to the American South, taking photographs in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana for her series Deep South (2005), as well as Civil War battlefields for Last Measure (2000). Mann’s disquieting, often black-and-white images manifest her interest in photography’s past, using nineteenth-century technologies such as a 8×10 bellows camera or platinum and wet-plate collodion processes for making prints, to explore their visual and metaphorical potential. A Guggenheim fellow and three-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Mann was recently the subject of an extensive survey show, A Thousand Crossings, which explored the identity of the American South. It debuted at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, in 2018 before touring across the US and to Paris’s Jeu de Paume.

Mann was selected among a shortlist of 12, including Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Rinko Kawauchi, Christian Marclay, Fabrice Monteiro, Lisa Oppenheim, Mak Remissa, Carla Rippey, Mark Ruwedel, Brent Stirton, David Uzochukwu and Daisuke Yokota. Works by all nominees are on view at the V&A, London, through January 9, 2022.

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Roman Pyatkovka, “VELVET SADNESS”, (1996), photograph glued on velvet passe-partout (paper).

Roman Pyatkovka, “VELVET SADNESS”, (1996), photograph glued on velvet passe-partout (paper).

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