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Prix Pictet photography contest winner captures the beauty and harshness of life in rural Rajasthan

By Issy Ronald, CNN

(CNN) — A child standing barefoot, seemingly playing with a bag over their head; an old woman sticking her tongue out during an medical examination; a family sitting in an empty room on Holi Day, staring into the camera; a girl hanging upside down from a tree, her head in another girl’s hands.

For a portfolio that included these images captured in rural Rajasthan, Indian photographer Gauri Gill has won the prestigious Prix Pictet, a global award for photography and sustainability.

During her visits to western Rajasthan for the past 24 years, Gill said in a statement that she “witnessed a complex reality,” previously unknown to her as “a city dweller,” as she engaged closely with the marginalized communities living there.

“To live poor and landless in the desert amounts to an inescapable reliance on oneself, on each other, and on nature,” she added. “These fragments of shared experience now inhabit a large photographic archive called Notes from the Desert.”

First launched in 2008, the Prix Pictet photography award aims to capture and highlight issues of work on themes connected to sustainability. Each of its 10 editions has focused on a different facet of sustainability and this year’s competition was themed “Human.”

Eleven other portfolios of work were shortlisted for the award. They included Ragnar Axelsson’s series of photos depicting Inuit hunters and Nenet reindeer-hunters, whose ways of life are being threatened by the climate crisis, and Siân Davey’s images capturing visitors to her back garden, all in various poses among the wildflowers.

Alessandro Cinque was also shortlisted for his images “chronicling the difficult coexistence between the indigenous Quechua people in Peru, their land, and the mining industry,” he said in a statement.

By focusing on the “Human” theme, organizers of the award aimed to “foster a deeper understanding of our shared humanity and inspire meaningful conversations about the issues that impact us all,” said Isabelle von Ribbentrop, Executive Director of Prix Pictet, in a statement.

The shortlisted photographs will be exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until October 22 before being shown in museums around the world, including in Istanbul, Dublin, Bangkok and Stockholm.

A selection of the images can be viewed in the gallery above.

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