€ 50 000 awarded to Anri Sala for installation art

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The Albanian artist Anri Sala was presented with a € 50,000 creative arts award after winning the Vincent Prize in the Hague, capital of the Netherlands. The Vincent Medals, held once every two years, honours designers who have held substantial sway over the progress of cutting-edge creative arts in Europe. The additional contestants comprised of Manfred Pernice from Deutschland, Willem de Rooij from the Low Countries, Pierre Huyghe from France and the British-born Gillian Wearing, a winner of the United Kingdom Turner prize.

The selection and naming of the prizewinner was accomplished by a five person judging panel, which included Benno Tempel, director of the Gemeentemuseum, and Anita Zabludowicz, co-leader of the Zabludowicz Collection, United Kingdom. The suggestion was made on a pre-selection basis, done by leading names in modern-day fine art. Nominee Anri Sala could not be found at the ceremony but he was represented by an Albanian consul and, additionally, offered his regards using a live chat. "It’s both a joy to have triumphed but it’s difficult that I cannot be present to appreciate and accept it personally" he said. "Even though this is perhaps similar to my installation pieces, where the display is in one space and the sound is in an alternate area, although I would like it if both my vocals and my physical body could be next to you all. Thank you all so much for this medal."

His victory artwork was a blend of older installations: two videos and a set up. Titled Le Clash and Tlatelolco Clash, the piece emphasises a male walking along the place of bloody, unsuccessful university student demonstrations of 1968, in Mexico City. He is followed by the audio of an autonomous snare drum set up and The Clash’s "Should I Stay or Should I Go". Both video clips are projected at the same time, driving the viewer to make judgements concerning the way they view the work, gifting a certain level of power back to the guests. For his part, Sala explained that the installation looked at the "lack of success of power structures".

An official release from the judging body pronounced: "In this sixth iteration of the Vincent Awards, we observed a particular interest in temporal-minded installations, installation artworks that are not requesting time on the visitors but giving hours. Time to meditate, time to immerse and time to walk into alternative worlds and opinions. In our modern culture, time devouring and multitasking is all over the place. We feel that pondering this is an indispensable function of contemporary creative arts."

As the planner of the 2014 prizes, the Gemeentemuseum in the Hague is permitted to show off the finalist’s works until February.