Prix Pictet Fire images tackling the burning issue of sustainability are coming to Dubai

Work from 13 artists, including Lebanon, will be displayed as part of the photography prize's global tour

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Striking photographs shortlisted for the Prix Pictet Fire will be on view from Friday at A1 Space in Dubai's Alserkal Avenue.

Part of the ninth cycle of world-famous photography prize Prix Pictet, the works are from 13 international artists from countries such as Lebanon, South Africa and Switzerland.

The Prix Pictet was founded in 2008 and every 18 months awards 100,000 Swiss Francs ($101,086) to the person behind the work that speaks best to the theme, which always aims to promote discussion on issues of sustainability.

The pictures shortlisted this year draw inspiration from major global events and personal experiences, spanning documentary, portraiture, landscape, collage and "studies of light and process".

The winner of Prix Pictet Fire is American photographer Sally Mann, who received the award in December at London's Victoria and Albert Museum for her series Blackwater (2008-2012). It was an exploration of the wildfires in the Great Dismal Swamp, south-east Virginia, where the first slave ships docked in the US.

Sally Mann's 'Blackwater 13'. Photo: Sally Mann; Gagosian; Prix Pictet

“The fires in the Great Dismal Swamp seemed to epitomise 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 said of her work. "Something about the deeply flawed American character seems to embrace the apocalyptic as solution.”

From the region, photographers Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige were shortlisted for Wonder Beirut (1998-2006). The pair, who live and work between France and Lebanon, created the series based on postcards from the 1960s and 1970s, which are still on sale in Lebanese bookshops, despite depicting places that often no longer exist or were damaged in bombardments.

The images are taken from the lens of fictional character Abdallah Farah. "Farah supposedly took photographs that were used to produce these postcards in the 1960s — and then burned them himself to record the impact of bombardments and street battles during the Lebanese civil wars,” says the artists’ statement.

The photo by Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige from their series. Photo: Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige

For the first part of the series, Hadjithomas and Joreige printed and distributed thousands of “postcards of war”, to “ interrogate the way in which this history is written”. In a second part, called The Story of a Pyromaniac Photographer, the artists created new images by destroying the existing ones with fire, which is “closer to the representation that we have of the city”, they say.

Other photographers included on the shortlist include Rinko Kawauchi, who documented firework displays throughout Japan every summer between 1997 and 2001; Austrian-Nigerian David Uzochukwu, who lives between Germany and Belgium, whose portraits are taken within an unknown landscape on fire; and American-Swiss artist Christian Marclay, who lives in the UK, whose prints started as collages featuring fragments from comic books, film stills and internet images.

Celebrated photographer Lisa Oppenheim is also part of the show. Her work is held in major museum collections such as the Guggenheim Museum and Museum of Modern Art in New York, Paris's Centre Pompidou and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, to name a few.

One of Lisa Oppenheim's pieces from her series 'Smoke'. Photo: Lisa Oppenheim

In her series Smoke, the presence of fire is indicated by smoke and, using images from newspapers or the internet, she "reprocesses" the photographs in the darkroom, using the light of a match to expose the negative.

Each cycle, the shortlisted works tour globally, with exhibitions in dozens of locations, and a book is printed covering the pieces and photographers in detail.

This year, after going on display in Dubai, the show will move to museums in Mexico City, Singapore, Hong Kong, New York and Madrid, among others, until next summer.

The exhibition in Dubai runs until October 16 and will be open daily from 10am to 7pm. More information is available at

Updated: September 27, 2022, 12:08 PM