The French fashion brand Lacoste has removed Bethlehem artist Larissa Sansour from a short-list of photography award nominees for the prestigious Lacoste Elysée Prize for being “too pro-Palestinian.”
The €25,000 prize is awarded annually by the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée with sponsorship from Lacoste.
Sansour had been shortlisted with eight other nominees for the prize, which will be announced in January. In December, she was told that Lacoste refused to support her work, declaring it “too pro-Palestinian.”
Lacoste attempted to mask the reasons for her dismissal, asking Sansour to sign a statement saying that she electively withdrew her nomination “in order to pursue other opportunities.”
She refused the sign the statement.
“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,” said Sansour.
Lacoste’s prejudice and censorship puts a major dent in the idea of corporate involvement in the arts. It is deeply worrying,” she continued.
Sansour’s short-listed work “Nation Estate,” was developed in light of the Palestinian bid for membership at the United Nations. The work depicts a science-fiction version of a Palestinian state within a single skyscraper, with the lost cities of Jerusalem, Ramallah and Bethlehem reconstructed on separate floors.
Musée de l’Elysée has offered to exhibit the Nation Estate project outside of the confines of the Lacoste sponsorship.
By Sarah Sheffer