Valérie Belin is the winner of the sixth Prix Pictet photography award for her Still Life, 2014 series, which explores our obsession with cheap objects that waste raw materials.
"I'm so happy, so so happy" she says in an exclusive first interview after walking off of the podium. "I was surprised because in my mind, my work was maybe too much like a painting, with a more political dimension. It's not what you see as a first place. I am so happy that this political dimension was recognized for the first time."
Belin's work also represents a grotesque kind of immortality because of its non-biodegradable nature, she says in a statement. "[It's] an immortality that, one could say, is slowly killing the planet."
Benin's work was chosen from 12 finalists who dealt with the theme "disorder." They included Ilit Azoulay, Valérie Belin, Matthew Brandt, Maxim Dondyuk, Alixandra Fazzina, Ori Gersht, John Gossage, Pieter Hugo, Gideon Mendel, Sophie Ristelhueber, Brent Stirton and Yang Yongliang.
"The quality of the nominations made the jury debate one of the toughest we have had," says jury chair Professor Sir David King. "Any one of the 12 artists nominated would have been a worthy winner."
Belin will receive approximately $100,000, which she says she intends to use pursuing further projects that deal with social issues. "I would like to continue exploring work that looks at life altered in our society because of globalization," she says. "All my pictures center around a kind of social belief."
The work of all shortlisted photographers will be featured at an exhibition at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, which runs until December 13. The exhibition will continue on to Rome, Switzerland and San Diego, among other locations.