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Yael Bartana Awarded the UK's Largest Art Prize
Yael Bartana, Wall and Tower, 2009. One channel RED transfer to 35mm film. Duration: 16 min. Courtesy Annet Gelink Gallery Amsterdam.

CARDIFF.- The 4th Artes Mundi Prize for contemporary art of £40,000 was awarded to Yael Bartana from Israel at National Museum Cardiff on Wednesday 19 May.

Artes Mundi 4 has demonstrated that artists of today can add new readings into global issues as well as particular country politics. Bartana was awarded the Prize for her work of the last five to eight years which has consistently stimulated thinking about the human condition and adds to our understanding of humanity.

The winning artist creates complex visualizations with photography, film, video, sound and installation. Using documentation and re-enactments she moves between playfulness and seriousness. Bartana divides her time between her homeland and Amsterdam and often focuses upon Israel and the Israeli situation. She explores the details of everyday living and its rituals while relating them to the actions of the state and the constant presence of war and insecurity.

The announcement was made tonight by Professor Sarat Maharaj - Professor of Visual Art & Knowledge Systems, Lund University & the Malmo Art Academies, Sweden, who chaired the prestigious panel of jurors including Chilean artist - Eugenio Dittborn, Hannah Firth - Curator: Head of Visual Arts at Chapter, Cardiff, and Adam Szymczyk - Director and Chief Curator of Kunsthalle Basel and Octavio Zaya - independent curator and art writer based in New York.

Professor Sarat Maharaj said: “We live in an age where we are frequently asked to face tribal and territorial concerns and where national and regional boundaries are disputed with devastating consequences. Yael Bartana has continually found inventive strategies to question the abstract idea of a nation’s collective identity - a question that is fundamental to the human condition.

“The high standard and welcome complexity of work by the eight shortlisted artists –– across painting, photography, film, video, sound, installation and drawing –– made the jury’s decision a difficult one.

“All deserve recognition and praise for work that explores issues of national identity, globalisation, consumerism, propaganda and migration. From Kyrgyz traders on the Great Silk Road to Taiwanese factory workers, the lives of ordinary people around the globe are made real and unfamiliar cultures are brought closer to viewers in the UK by the artists of Artes Mundi 4.”

The artists selected for Artes Mundi 4 were Yael Bartana (Israel), Fernando Bryce (Peru), Ergin Çavuşoğlu (Bulgaria), Chen Chieh-jen (Taiwan), Olga Chernysheva (Russia), Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev (Kyrgyzstan) and Adrian Paci (Albania).

First Minister of Wales, Carwyn Jones, added: “Artes Mundi is a most significant and successful arts initiative and I am pleased that the Welsh Assembly Government has been able to support the Prize from the beginning. Its impact goes beyond Wales to the UK and to wider international arts audiences. Not only is it still one of the largest art prizes in the world but it is one of the very few that is genuinely international, providing a showcase for artists from across the globe.”

The Artes Mundi shortlist exhibition which has already generated high visitor figures – over 25,000 people to date - continues until 6 June at National Museum Cardiff.

National Museum Cardiff | The Artes Mundi | Carwyn Jones | Yael Bartana |

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