Prince Claus Laureates of 2017 Announced
By Julee WJ Chung
On September 6, the Prince Claus Fund announced the Prince Claus Laureates.
The winners include installation artist, documentarian and social activist Amar Kanwar, whose works approach difficult topics of poverty, oppression, and sexual violence to drive home the urgency of social change; Khadija al-Salami, a documentary filmmaker and activist whose films reflect the ongoing conflict and injustice experienced by Yemeni women; L’Art Rue, a Tunisia-based public art collective that advocates for the integration of art and civic life in the political sphere; Brigitte Baptiste, LGBTQI activist and director of the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute; as well as Diébédo Francis Kéré, a Gando-based architect who focuses on sustainable and regional design strategies.
In addition to the five winners mentioned above, environmentalist Ma Jun and documentary filmmaker Vincent Carelli will be presented the Principal Prince Claus Award by the Prince Constantijn of the Netherlands in December. The Prince Claus Awards Committee writes that their “individual outstanding work has wide influence on vast populations on opposite sides of the world. They use different media and methods in different disciplines but both highlight the urgent struggle to protect people’s lives and the environment against unjust and unsustainable exploitation, emphasize the importance of people’s voices, prove the power of citizens to create just and sustainable societies, [and] demonstrate the fundamental need for transparent, accurate and accessible information.” The Fund will publish an awards book where all laureates will present their works alongside laudations written by field experts.
The prestigious annual award, now in its 21st edition, is presented to individuals, collectives and larger organizations that have achieved outstanding work within the field of visual art and culture based in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. With a guiding principle that culture is integral to any community, they aim to “foster inspirational leadership and to enhance the positive impact of cultural expression on societies.”
The awards committee consists of independent experts from various disciplines and countries who voluntarily provide their services for two years or more. This year’s awarding jury includes eight members: Fariba Derakhshani, the program coordinator of the awards; Sheikha Hoor al-Qasimi, president and director of the Sharjah Art Foundation; visual artist Dinh Q Lê, who is based in Ho Chi Minh; Defne Ayas, director of Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam; Emile Fallaux, a cultural advisor, filmmaker and journalist from Amsterdam; Solange Farkas, a curator based in São Paulo, Brazil; Neo Muyanga, a composer and musician from Cape Town; and Manuel de Rivero, an architect and urbanist from Lima, Peru.
Previous principal laureates include Thai artist Apichatpong Weerasethakul, Iranian photojournalist and visual artist Newsha Tavakolian, Colombian artist and expert in plants and ecological systems Abel Rodríguez, and the late Egyptian vernacular poet and sociopolitical critic Ahmed Fouad Negm, among others.
Julee WJ Chung is ArtAsiaPacific’s assistant editor.
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