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Back Art and Culture Art and Culture French fashion brand Lacoste demands the removal of Bethlehem artist Larissa Sansour from major photographic prize.

French fashion brand Lacoste demands the removal of Bethlehem artist Larissa Sansour from major photographic prize.

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Bethlehem artist Larissa Sansour

Palestinian artist and photographer Larissa Sansour has recently seen her nomination to the prestigious €25,000 Lacoste Elysée Prize revoked on the basis that it is ‘too pro-Palestinian’.  Larissa Sansour was among the eight artists shortlisted for the 2011 prize.

Sansour’s shortlisted work, Nation Estate, is conceived in the wake of the Palestinian bid for UN membership. Nation Estate depicts a science fiction-style Palestinian state in the form of a single skyscraper housing the entire Palestinian population. Inside this new Nation Estate, the residents have recreated their lost cities on separate floors: Jerusalem on 3, Ramallah on 4, Sansour’s own hometown of Bethlehem on 5, etc.

Nation Estate, Larissa Sansour – Jerusalem Floor

However, in December 2011, Lacoste the clothing brand sponsoring the award have demanded that the project be removed from the competition.  Regretting Lacoste’s decision to censor Sansour’s work, Musée de l’Elysée has offered to exhibit the Nation Estate project outside of the confines of the Lacoste sponsorship.

As a nominee, Sansour was awarded a bursary of €4,000 and given carte blanche to produce a portfolio of images for the final judging. In November 2011, three photos for Sansour’s Nation Estate project were accepted, and she was congratulated by the prize administrators on her work and professionalism. Sansour’s name was included on all the literature relating to the prize and on the website as an official nominee. Her name has since been removed, just as her project has been withdrawn from an upcoming issue of contemporary art magazine ArtReview introducing the nominated artists.

Sansour says:

“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.”

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Last Updated on Sunday, 10 June 2012 12:20


+4 #7 Ghassan Khoury 2011-12-28 05:38
What a shame. Whether they like it or not, Palestine will remain on the map forever. And si is your art Larissa. We are proud of you
+2 #6 Awad Paul Sifri 2011-12-22 23:35
Larissa Sansour's art and concept is absolutely brilliant and is a WNNER, regardless of how the tentacles of Apartheid try to drown it. Lacoste loses. Or is it "La cost"?
Spread the word and make this a La costliest punishment for the followers of this suppressor of freedom of expression
+4 #5 said sidki 2011-12-21 23:59
tThe compression of Palestine into a small buiding.
A powerful artistic statement.
+3 #4 said sidki 2011-12-21 23:55
The compression of Palestine into a building with a few floors.
A powerful symbol. Congratulations , you deserve the prize,
+3 #3 Nadim 2011-12-21 12:27
To hell with Lacoste! We should all boycott them. Never again will I buy any of their products. Spread this around so that it will bite into their sales.
+7 #2 sarah 2011-12-20 22:23
Bigotry and double standard are alive and well ! :sad:
+6 #1 Sylvia 2011-12-20 14:05
Disgusting. But congratulations , Larissa, for the nomination, and for the publicity this will generate.

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