Sally Mann was announced December 15 as the winner of the 9th cycle of the Prix Pictet, the global award in photography and sustainability. The announcement, at a ceremony at the V&A in London, marks the opening of a major exhibition showcasing the 12 photographic series shortlisted for the prize. Each of the shortlisted bodies of work explores the topical theme of ‘Fire’, the focus of this cycle of the award.
Mann’s winning series Blackwater (2008-2012) is a multifaceted exploration of the devastating wildfires that enveloped the Great Dismal Swamp in southeastern Virginia, where the first slave ships docked in America. In this work, Mann draws a parallel between the all-consuming wildfires she encountered there with racial conflict in America, explaining “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. Something about the deeply flawed American character seems to embrace the apocalyptic as solution.”
The free exhibition at the V&A of the work of all the shortlisted photographers is on show until 9 January 2022.