Palestinian artist claims censorship after removal from gallery prize shortlist
Padraig Reidy: Palestinian artist claims censorship after removal from gallery prize shortlist
20 Dec 11

London-based artist Larissa Sansour has claimed that she has been removed from the shortlist for a prestigious European prize after her work was deemed too “pro-Palestinian” by the sponsors, fashion label Lacoste.

In a statement today, Jerusalem-born Sansour said the fashion label had decided her submitted work, Nation Estate which addresses ideas of Palestinian identity and statehood, was pro-Palestinian. The photo and video work was developed specifically for the Lacoste Elysée Prize, awarded by Lausanne’s Musée de l’Elysée.

Sansour claims she was asked by the prize organisers to approve a statement saying she had quit the prize “in order to pursue other opportunities”.

An email seen by Index on Censorship, introducing shortlisted artists to each other, appears to confirm that Sansour was on the original list of eight artists and collaborators. The other seven nominees named in the email from the prize organisers remain on the published shortlist.

Sansour commented:

“I am very sad and shocked by this development. This yearPalestinewas officially admitted to UNESCO, yet we are still being silenced. 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. Lacoste’s prejudice and censorship puts a major dent in the idea of corporate involvement in the arts. It is deeply worrying.”

Index has attempted to contact Lacoste, but has not yet had a response.

More as the story develops.


By Padraig Reidy

Padraig Reidy is the editor of Little Atoms and a columnist for Index on Censorship. He has also written for The Observer, The Guardian, and The Irish Times.