A controversy is brewing in Switzerland, where French luxury label Lacoste has attempted to strong arm a museum in Lausanne, Switzerland, to exclude Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour from the Lacoste Elysée Prize.
The artist says Lacoste refused to support her work because it was “too pro-Palestinian.”
The Swiss museum, Musée de l’Elysée, has come out in support of Sansour and it has released a statement that explains why it will suspend the 2011 Lacoste Elysée Prize:
The Musée de l’Elysée has based its decision on the private partner’s wish to exclude Larissa Sansour, one of the prize nominees. We reaffirm our support to Larissa Sansour for the artistic quality of her work and her dedication.
The Lacoste Elysée Prize is normally awarded by the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée with sponsorship from Lacoste and it comes with a €25,000 purse. Sansour was among the eight artists shortlisted for the 2011 prize. As part of their participation, each artist was asked to produce three photographs on the theme la joie de vivre with the help of a grant of €4,000. Artists were given free reign to interpret the theme.
The artist also claims that the luxury brand attempted to mask Sansour’s dismissal by asking her to approve a statement that she had withdrawn her nomination “to pursue other opportunities.” The artist refused.
Sansour released the following statement about the incident:
“I am very sad and shocked by this development. This year Palestine was 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.”
Lacoste has not yet released a statement about the incident. This story is evolving.
The following images are from Sansour’s Nation Estate series which was submitted for the 2011 Lacoste Elysée Prize. The artist explains that the series is conceived in the wake of the Palestinian bid for United Nations membership, and it depicts a science fiction-style Palestinian state in the form of a single skyscraper housing the entire Palestinian population.