A photographer's haunting images capture the essence of the world's most energy-hungry nation.
Photographer Mark Epstein was awarded the 2011 Prix Pictet—"the world's leading prize in photography and sustainability"—for his American Power series. The photographs "examine how energy is produced and used in the American landscape," and, Epstein writes, "question the power of nature, government, corporations, and mass consumption in the United States.
Started in 2008, the mandate of the Prix Pictet is:
to use the power of photography to communicate vital messages to a global audience. The goal is to uncover art of the highest order, applied to confront the pressing social and environmental challenges of the new millennium.\n
This year's theme was Growth. Previous years have hovered around the themes of Water and Earth. In addition to the roughly $110,000 prize, Prix Pictet awards a Commission, "in which a shortlisted photographer is invited to undertake a field trip to a region where the Bank [that funds the prize] is supporting a sustainability project." GOOD favorite Chris Jordan was this year's Commission recipient, and will be traveling to Kenya to explore the Tusk Trust project there.
Photograph: Mitch Epstein /2011 Prix Pictet