Red-faced alerting: Kofi Annan on the photos that captivate our strangling planet

Category: Blog
92 0

From a cloaked Tokyo commuter in a humble to the plastic corpuscles killing our oceans, the former UN secretary-general hails the photographers shortlisted for tonights space-themed Prix Pictet prize

We are running out of room. Fly over Africa at night and you will see mile after mile of fires igniting ruby-red in the dark as scrubbing is removed to make way for human being. Satellite personas of nocturnal Europe or America establish vast domains ignite up like an enormous fairground. From Shanghai to Sydney, from Moscow to Mexico City, the skylines of our major metropolis are no longer specified and familiar. Where we cannot build into the sky, we create vast chequerboards of smogbound, low-rise residences that pull from one horizon to the other.

Our metropolis expand in every direction as we push to house a population that is growing at the rate of 200,000 every day. That includes up to a headcount the size of Germany each year. To feed this growing multitude involves ever more territory to farm: per year, more than 150,000 square kilometres of natural forest are lost to agricultural or urban development.

Brilliant artificial macrocosms Mandy Barkers photograph of a specimen she collected from the Cork shoreline. Image: Mandy Barker, Prix Pictet 2017

Forests envelops a third of our planets territory surface. They make life-giving oxygen and, by assimilating carbon dioxide, also mitigate the otherwise disastrous effects of climate change. Not merely do they supply a environment for many of the worlds most endangered animals, around 1.6 billion people rely on them for meat, fresh water, apparel, conventional medication and shelter. Yet they are under threat from rampant deforestation in its many forms: attacks, clearing for agriculture, unsustainable logging, ranching and development.

We speak reverentially of the beast allure and teeming biodiversity of the worlds great deserts, from the tropical rainforests of Amazonia and central Africa, to our wetlands and deserts, and on to Patagonia and the frozen debris of Antarctica. We are increasingly aware of the threats to such spaces and have encouraged sustainable protection and ecotourism. But still the threats remain.

The greatest unexplored cavity on our planet lies beneath the atlantic provinces. Yet rising CO 2 heights in the atmosphere are causing acidification, which disrupts food chains and marine habitats. Huge moving slews of plastic dropped in the atlantic provinces turn into toxic waste that endangers is not simply marine life but too, indirectly, human populations and the planet itself. Overfishing, illegal and injury trawling the procedures and past whaling have evacuated the atlantic provinces before we have even properly understood what riches they contain. And the largest cavities of the atlantic provinces are the lungs of countries around the world.

The refugee crisis in black and white detail of a shot from Richard Mosses Heat Maps series. Image: Richard Mosse, Prix Pictet 2017

The very air we breathe is filling up with toxins. For times, gases have burned through the ozone layer, exposing us to ultraviolet rays and changing climate change. Airborne cancers such as Zika, swine influenza and fowl influenzas have multiplied and threatened to become world-wide pandemics.

Great glooms of smog waver above our towns and airborne sickness multiply. Inhalation of harmful gases is said to reduce average lifespans by one to two years. Numerous approximations suggest that air pollution accounts for between half and two-thirds of all premature deaths in Asia, while anywhere between 10 and 20% of all worldwide demises are attributable to the same stimulate.

Typhoons, hurricanes and cyclones are harbingers of natural disasters, hitherto the winds are likewise, for some, an important source of energy. The conversation about the effectiveness of gale farms storm on. Objectors claim they are ineffective and even hazardous eyesores, while pro-campaigners trumpet the positive impact of these gust farms.

Crammed in a photo of Hong Kong life from Benny Lams Trapped series. Photo: Kindnes of Benny Lam( photographs ), Kwong Chi Kit and Dave Ho( concept ), Prix Pictet 2017

Space itself famously the final frontier has not been colonised but has, instead, become a dumping ground to the extent that scientists are now calling on nations to reduce the amounts of orbital waste they cause or gamble restraining future space-related activities. And yet, as overpopulation and abridging landmass become a conundrum for benefit of future generations, will outer space add an inhabitable context? Space exploration and research are continuing, with Nasa proposing to station a team of astronauts on the moon for a lengthy bide. There is even talk of space stations on Mars.

Twelve photographers were shortlisted for this years Prix Pictet apportion, on the theme of cavity. Each has made outstanding images that address the theme of opening with ability and narrative capability. Some, like Mandy Barker, form brilliant artificial worlds in which the plastic corpuscles that are strangling our oceans are presented as if they were plankton suspended in liquid stops. Scientific research has found that plankton absorb minuscule plastic particles, mistaking them for nutrient. Since they are at the base of the food chain, they are themselves a critical root of nourishment for big animals. The potential impact on naval life and eventually humankind is of deep concern.

The shortlisted artists follow radically different directions but often arrived here parallel opinions. Richard Mosse and Sergey Ponomarev places great importance on the refugee and immigration crisis now facing Europe. Mosses searing monochrome images of camps of refugees and staging areas reduce individual refugees to an diabolical mass, while Ponomarevs photographs demo despairing human beings with nothing left to lose. They have somehow detected the strength to undertake a risky sea jaunt, in the promise of a better life, in the to be expected that a safe cavity awaits them. They exist in limbo, be exempted from modern societies.

Nothing left to lose migrants arrive at the Greek island of Lesbos, in a shot by Sergey Ponomarev. Image: Sergey Ponomarev, Prix Pictet 2017

Michael Wolf and Benny Lam explore those who have, at some personal expenditure, woven themselves into the social fabric of our municipalities. Lam focuses on the cramped living conditions of Hong Kongs poorest citizens, for whom a single 40 -square-foot room( the size of a lavatory or balcony) is dwelling.

Wolf s Japanese commuters are among the 3.64 million people who expend Tokyos Shinjuku Station every day. Wolf depicts their faces rammed against the glass panes of a subway improve. Clearly, this is no way to live. Yet these lives abide. And perhaps in this ability to carry on in misery lies hope for us all. Hope that, despite the catastrophic impair that we have visited upon the natural environment and upon the well-being of our most vulnerable fellow citizens, it is not too late for us to overrule the damage.

The creators shortlisted have glittered a light on the issues. We reject them at our peril.

The Prix Pictet: Space exhibition is at the V& A, London, 6-28 May. Kofi Annan will announce the winner tonight during a ceremony at the museum.

Read more:

Leave a comment


Register now to get updates on promotions and coupons.