El Anatsui, Black River, 2009
. Courtesy Artist and CCA,Lagos
Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos is pleased to announce that a prominent member of its board of trustees, internationally renowned artist El Anatsui is one of 11 Prince Claus Fund Laureates for 2009. Each year individuals, groups, organisations or institutions that have made outstanding contributions to culture and development within the Prince Claus Fund’s area of interest receive the prize. The awards are given to individuals, groups and organisations around the globe, but primarily in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. The principal award of 100,000 euros was awarded to Colombian architect Simon Velez whilst 10 others receive the sum of 25,000 euros each.
Quality is a sine qua non for a Prince Claus Award. The quality of a laureate’s work is assessed in professional and personal contexts and for its positive impact on wider cultural and social fields. The creation of interactions and links between different cultures, the fostering of commonalities and the initiation of shared cultural currents are highly valued. The Prince Claus Awards recognise artistic and intellectual qualities that are relevant in the contemporary context. They legitimise experimentation and innovation, recognise audacity and tenacity, support inspirational developments and seek to enhance their beneficial impact.
The 2009 Principal Prince Claus Award
Simón Vélez (b. 1949, Manizales, Colombia)
Simón Vélez is an outstanding architect whose aesthetic and technical innovations have enhanced the construction potential of bamboo and challenged mainstream architectural trends. Completing his studies at Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Vélez moved away from the predominant international modernist stream to focus on indigenous architectural practices. Vélez has successfully synthesised indigenous design, avant-garde technology and ecological processes. His architectural practice, seminars and workshops demonstrate that bamboo is an efficient and aesthetic building material, with profound implications for social development and the environment. Because it flourishes in diverse climates, particularly in less developed countries, bamboo has the potential to revolutionise developing economies through low-cost construction and reduced imports. Its cultivation and processing are ecologically sound and sustainable, and it is one of the best plants for absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Simón Vélez is honoured for his aesthetic use of natural materials for contemporary design, for transforming local traditional indigenous knowledge through innovation that renews and extends its relevance as a source of solutions for global problems, and most importantly he is honoured for highlighting the essential rapport between sustainable design practices and social development, and between culture and nature.
El Anatsui (b. 1944, Anyako, Ghana)
Highly original sculptor, El Anatsui is a beacon in contemporary African art. Graduating from Kumasi University of Science and Technology with art and art education degrees that focused on European traditions, he turned his attention to African aesthetics. Researching and experimenting with local symbolic vocabularies, forms, artisanal processes and materials, he has developed an open eclectic approach. Using an unusual range of natural materials and processed items, Anatsui’s artworks interrogate issues through the layers of meaning embodied in their substance and form. Professor of Sculpture and Head of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Anatsui is staunch defender of artistic freedom and promoter of art’s role in local development. A generous mentor and an inspiring teacher, his lifelong dedication to intellectual exploration of political and environmental issues has influenced local social and cultural development not only through his artwork but also through his influence on generations of young artists.
El Anatsui is honoured for the outstanding aesthetic and intellectual qualities of his creations, for his innovative use of materials to highlight the dialogue between culture and nature, and for his dedicated and inspirational role in the development of the visual arts in Africa.
Other Nigerian art professionals who have won include photographer Uche Iroha and CORA.
Other African laureates that Centre of Contemporary Art,Lagos has links and contact with include
Doual’art (founded 1991, Douala, Cameroon)
Doual’art is an independent, non-profit organisation that has revolutionised the art scene in Cameroon. Under the leadership of Marilyn Douala Bell and Didier Schaub, Espace Doual’art presents high quality exhibitions, artists’ talks, debates and conferences. This first Prince Claus Award to Cameroon honours Doual’art for its clearly articulated vision encompassing aesthetic quality and social engagement, for its innovative efforts to raise awareness of citizens’ role in imagining and constructing their city, and for its inspirational impact on the visual arts and on social and cultural development in Central Africa.
Santu Mofokeng (b. 1956, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Santu Mofokeng is honoured for the outstanding quality and content of his work, for his refiguration of the powers of photographic representation, for his acute insight into the cultural meanings in landscapes and the reciprocal relations of environment and development, and for his significant contribution to photography in Africa.
Sammy Baloji (b. 1978, Lubumbashi, DR Congo)
Sammy Baloji is awarded for his highly original inscription of the painful history of human and environmental exploitation into the present-day landscape, for bringing Congo’s current realities to an international platform, for his important contribution to the memory of the Congo providing a new reading of the present, and for his challenging demonstration that development can only be realised after duly taking into account the traumas of the past.More information www.princeclausfund.org