Pierre de Vallombreuse is the 2023 winner of the Viviane Esders award. He will receive a grant of €60,000, €10,000 of which will be devoted to the publication of a work. At the age of 60, the photographer still has a few decades to carry out the projects that are close to his heart.
For this second edition of the Viviane Esders award, more than 200 applications were received, including 26% from women photographers and projects from 14 European countries.
“Pierre de Vallombreuse is committed, using photographic testimony, to the existence and survival of all peoples who have historically been victims of national States and whose civilizations are victims of our civilization. He discovered himself in his own humanity by discovering their humanity. In this fight, the meaning of his life was also revealed.” Edgar Morin
For Pierre de Vallombreuse, the image offers the possibility of experiencing strong adventures and telling stories, mainly about indigenous peoples. It is also a testimony to our world and its diversity. Very early on, the photographer Pierre de Vallombreuse recognized the need to defend the plurality of cultures, a fight that he feels is essential in the face of the accelerating impoverishment of biodiversity and diversity people, the two being totally linked. The photographer thus seized photography as a tool of resistance in the face of emergency.
It was a trip to Borneo in 1985 that changed the course of his life with the meeting of the last nomads of the jungle: the Punans. From sedentary artist, he then became a nomadic witness. Photography being his mode of expression. After Borneo, he discovered in the Philippines, in the jungle of the island of Palawan, a valley which would structure a very large part of his existence. For 34 years he has been recounting the lives of its formerly isolated inhabitants. Since then, he tirelessly bears witness to the life of indigenous peoples on 5 continents. He has created a unique photographic collection of more than 140,000 photos on 42 peoples, thus paying tribute to the precious diversity of the world.
Pierre de Vallombreuse’s entire approach is based on the attempt to provide a beginning of reflection to everyone’s questions about civilizations. This is what has motivated the photographer’s approach for almost forty years: “When I arrive in a community, I abandon my “social self” as much as I can to become nothing more than a sort of newborn which tries to understand, without prejudice, how people live in a particular place on the globe. Understanding means being less afraid.”
Chaired by Viviane Esders and composed of: Anny Duperey (actress and writer), Maria Finders (curator of Luma days for Arles), Antoine de Galbert (contemporary art collector and patron), Atiq Rahimi (director and novelist), Françoise Reynaud (historian of photography and curator at the Carnavalet Museum until 2016) and Isabella Seniuta (independent curator), the jury chose Pierre de Vallombreuse among the last 5 finalists.
Created in 2022, the Viviane Esders Award aims to honor each year the work of a professional European photographer over 60 years old, independent and still active, whose importance and qualities deserve to be better known in the history of photography. It highlights the view and the journey of a life, that of photographers, these authors whose medium has tirelessly animated the path of Viviane Esders since the 1980s. This prize reflects the coming together of two complementary life journeys , that of its founder, dedicated to understanding, loving and exhibiting photographers, and that of a photographer, dedicated to creation in the hope of constituting an oeuvre.