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Palestinian artist claims censorship after removal from gallery prize shortlist
20 Dec 2011
BY PADRAIG REIDY

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.

 

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.
Padraig Reidy

6 responses to “Palestinian artist claims censorship after removal from gallery prize shortlist”

  1. Sarah AB says:

    Thanks – it does seem like the museum has essentially done the right thing, although I note that on this site (link and quote follow) it is claimed that the *museum* tried to get her to sign that disclaimer (rather than Lacoste). I wonder if that’s a mistake though?

    http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/2134127/lacoste-elysee-photography-prize-censored

    “Sansour adds that she was asked by the museum to approve “a statement saying that she withdrew from her nomination ‘in order to pursue other opportunities’.” Sansour has refused.”

  2. Sarah AB says:

    Thanks – it does seem like the museum has essentially done the right thing, although I note that on this site (link and quote follow) it is claimed that the *museum* tried to get her to sign that disclaimer (rather than Lacoste). I wonder if that’s a mistake though?

    http://www.bjp-online.com/british-journal-of-photography/news/2134127/lacoste-elysee-photography-prize-censored

    “Sansour adds that she was asked by the museum to approve “a statement saying that she withdrew from her nomination ‘in order to pursue other opportunities’.” Sansour has refused.”

  3. Nicholas Blincoe says:

    Lariisa submitted a proposal for the ‘Joie de Vivre’ competition. She was successful and received the 4000 Euro award. She submitted on time, was praised by the museum and was listed as one of eight shortlisted finalists. Her name appeared on websites and in promotional material for almost a month. Then she was kicked off. The museum has sided with her, confirming it was asked to censor her work, and has stated its commitment to free speech. Lacoste sponsor more than just the prize, so the Musee d’Elysee has acrificed a chunk of funding.

  4. Nicholas Blincoe says:

    Lariisa submitted a proposal for the ‘Joie de Vivre’ competition. She was successful and received the 4000 Euro award. She submitted on time, was praised by the museum and was listed as one of eight shortlisted finalists. Her name appeared on websites and in promotional material for almost a month. Then she was kicked off. The museum has sided with her, confirming it was asked to censor her work, and has stated its commitment to free speech. Lacoste sponsor more than just the prize, so the Musee d’Elysee has acrificed a chunk of funding.

  5. Sarah AB says:

    I suppose quite a few questions are raised by this post, but I wondered if you could clear one thing up. Did Sansour receive her 4000 Euros, and then get bumped off the shortlist subsequently? That was the implication of the version I read on Electronic Intifada. But this piece gives the impression she didn’t get to that stage? This isn’t the most crucial question, but I’ve been blogging about the story, after reading about it here, and just wanted to be clear about the facts.

  6. Sarah AB says:

    I suppose quite a few questions are raised by this post, but I wondered if you could clear one thing up. Did Sansour receive her 4000 Euros, and then get bumped off the shortlist subsequently? That was the implication of the version I read on Electronic Intifada. But this piece gives the impression she didn’t get to that stage? This isn’t the most crucial question, but I’ve been blogging about the story, after reading about it here, and just wanted to be clear about the facts.