Photography Of Consumption In Prix Pictet At V&A

The Prix Pictet prize for photography and sustainability is now a decade old, and this year’s theme is consumption. It’s a broad subject and has been diversely interpreted by the 11 finalists. Having jumped around London locations over the past few years it seems to have found the perfect venue in the capacious Porter Gallery of the V&A.

We’ve already seen Mishka Henner’s ravaged oil fields and farmlands via satellite photography in an exhibition at Carroll Fletcher gallery. Contrasted with this are the personal views of Adam Bartos who has taken images of various items on sale at American yard sales from keyboards to extension cords, while Rineke Dijkstra documents the life of a Bosnian refugee in portraits from when she was a five year old up until she is holding a child of her own as a young woman.

The overall winner is Michael Schmidt whose scattergun selection of subjects covers everything from an apple to a vacuum-packed piece of meat in a fridge. He has a great eye for composition but the portfolio lacks a coherent narrative and hence we found it a little unfocussed.

Our favourites include those photographers who have decided to focus on the bizarre aspects of society — Laurie Simmons has tried to give a personality to a Japanese love doll by posing one in a bath and then overburdened it with jewellery. Motoyoki Daifu has photographed a family living in an apartment surrounded by food and rubbish, while our top pick is Hong Hao’s mission to scan every shred of his life creating collages of receipts, books, electrical devices, milk cartons and many more items.

This is a varied exhibition of top photographers from across the world, all with their own sociopolitical messages that address many aspects of consumer culture today.

Prix Pictet is on at the V&A until 14 June. Admission is free. Also on at the V&A are the Glamour of Italian Fashion, historic wedding dresses and Designing Georgian Britain.

More work by Laurie Simmons is currently being exhibited at Wilkinson gallery

For more art exhibitions to see in London, check out our May listings

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