Sponspor objection suspends art prize

Sponspor objection suspends art prize

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Sponspor objection suspends art prize

Jerusalem-born artist Larissa Sansour says she was told the sponsor of the event clothing brand Lacoste deemed her photo series ‘too pro-Palestinian.’

The organizers of a 25,000-euro art prize said Dec. 21 they were canceling this year’s competition after sponsor Lacoste objected to an entry by a Palestinian photographer, Agence France-Press reported yesterday.

Jerusalem-born artist Larissa Sansour said she was told the luxury clothing brand deemed her photo series “too pro-Palestinian.”

 “I was informed about the decision to remove my work from the competition last Wednesday over the phone by museum director Sam Stourdze – the same person who last night decided to side with [me] and break off the prize collaboration with Lacoste. His words were that ‘even though the work is not directly anti-Israeli, it is still too pro-Palestinian for Lacoste to support,’” Sansour told the Hürriyet Daily News by email.

“On [Dec. 21], Lacoste said that this was not true, and that I had been removed for not complying with the theme of the competition, ‘La Joie de Vivre,’” said Sansour. “This is not true. At no point prior to yesterday did anyone mention that I had not met the requirements. Plus, if there had been no actual censorship to cover up, I would not have been asked to remain silent about the development.”

The Elysee Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, had offered 25,000 euros to the winner of the Lacoste Elysee Prize for a work with the theme of “La Joie de Vivre.” A jury was set to award the prize money to one of eight candidates in January but the museum said this year’s award had been suspended.
 “The private partner’s wish to exclude Larissa Sansour, one of the competition candidates, is behind the Elysee Museum’s decision,” the museum said in a statement.

Conceived in the wake of the Palestinian bid for U.N. recognition, Sansour said her photo series, “Nation Estate,” “envisions a Palestinian state rising from the ashes of the peace process.”

Sansour expressed her shock at Lacoste’s actions in the matter. “As a politically involved artist I am no stranger to opposition, but never before have I been censored by the very same people who nominated me in the first place,” Sansour said in a statement.

“Lacoste’s prejudice and censorship puts a major dent in the idea of corporate involvement in the arts. It is deeply worrying,” the artist said.

The Elysee Museum said its decision reiterated its commitment to the “fundamental value” of freedom of expression and that it had offered to exhibit Sansour’s work outside of the competition, which began in 2010.