This week saw the Prix Pictet, a prestigious prize honouring photography that addresses issues surrounding sustainability, awarded to German photographer Michael Schmidt for his series Lebensmittel (foodstuffs, or groceries). The work consists of 60 photographs in a grid that each show a part of our food chain: a perfect green apple, an empty egg carton, a slaughterhouse, pigs packed tightly together, hamburgers... it is a stark, uncompromising confrontation of the realities of what we eat, where it comes from, and what it means (or doesn't mean) to us.
The theme of this year's Prix Pictet is 'Consumption', and all eleven of the shortlisted works offer an arresting glimpse into how well-being and affluence are linked to ownership, appearance and waste, in a world that has created "demand for essentials that we didn't know we needed": Laurie Simmons examines materialism through a Love Doll, Adam Bartos documents yard sales, and Rineke Dijkstra follows a Bosnian asylum seeker's acclimatisation into Dutch culture. Kofi Annan, who presented the award, rightly noted that "the shortlisted artists have made powerful images that ought to persuade governments, businesses, and each of us as individual consumers of the need for a fundamental rethink of the principles on which present-day affluence is founded."
If you find you're in need of a rethink, the shortlisted works will be on display at the Victoria &Albert Museum in London until June 14th.