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Richard Mosse wins Prix Pictet award

Images were created using military-grade thermal camera to depict migrants’ journeys to escape war and persecution

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The Irish-born photographer Richard Mosse has won the Prix Pictet award, for his series of black-and-white images entitled Heat Maps (2016-17). Now based in Leeds, Mosse used a military-grade thermal camera that detects body heat to depict sites on the journeys faced by migrants in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Regarded as a conceptual documentary photographer, his work was shown earlier this year in the Barbican Centre’s Curve gallery. 

The prize was presented last night (4 May) at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum by Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General and honorary president of Prix Pictet, an annual photographic award funded by the Swiss wealth management company Pictet. This year the theme was “Space”, focussing on the global problems of the environment and sustainability. Annan said that the entrants presented visions of people carrying on against dreadful odds, but “there is hope” that the damage caused to the lives of the vulnerable can be reversed.

An exhibition of all 12 shortlisted photographers is opening at the V&A tomorrow (6-28 May). The Prix Pictet show will then travel to venues in Zurich, Tokyo, Moscow, Brussels, San Diego and Rome.