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Lacoste Elysée Prize 2011 Suspended

December 23, 2011

courtesy of Mikko Lipiäinen

After news of the censorship of Larissa Sansour’s project “Nation Estate” (2011) spread internationally, the French fashion brand Lacoste decided to cancel its sponsorship of the Lacoste Elysée Prize, claiming that the real reason behind the exclusion was that they felt the artist’s work did not fit with the theme of the competition- “joie de vivre”(happiness).  The Musée de l’Elysée also announced the suspension of the photography competition and made a public offer to Sansour to exhibit her original project.

We have update this case to reflect these developments, however we feel it is highly relevant to also re-publish the statements from Lacoste and Sam Stourdzé, director of the Musée de l’Elysée. We take this opportunity to congratulate the museum leadership for their decision to stand by the artist&her original vision and not concede to corporate demands. Finally, we wish Larissa Sansour all the best in her work and are proud to have represented her case together with other independent media.


Statement from Lacoste, Paris, 21 December 2011

As part of a partnership with Musée de l’Elysée and regarding the 2011 Lacoste Elysée Prize, Lacoste had approved the inclusion of Larissa Sansour as that of all other entries from the very beginning.

The highly-regarded artwork Ms. Sansour had already produced, for which she had won both critical acclaim and global recognition, was indeed an asset rather than something that could have been held against her at any time.

Lacoste and the Musée de l’Elysée commissioned projects to each artist in the shortlist. The theme was “joie de vivre” (happiness) and each contestant received EUR 4,000 to come up with a dedicated work.

Today, Lacoste reputation is at stake for false reasons and wrongful allegations. Never, was Lacoste’s intention to exclude any work on political grounds. The brand would not have otherwise agreed to the selection of Ms. Sansour in the first place.

After receiving works from all entries, Lacoste and the Musée de l’Elysée felt the work at hand did not belong in the theme of “joie de vivre” (happiness), which had been the case for other applicants at previous steps in the selection process.

After agreeing with the Musée de l’Elysée, the decision was made known to Ms. Sansour and she was presented by the Musée de l’Elysée with an offer to hold an exhibition of her works in a different forum.

Lacoste can only be saddened by the current situation. The sole goal was to promote young photographers and provide them with an opportunity to increase their visibility.

In light of this situation and to avoid any misunderstanding, Lacoste has decided to cancel once and for all its participation in this event and its support to the Elysée Prize.



Suspension of the Lacoste Elysée Prize 2011, Lausanne, 21 December 2011

The Musée de l’Elysée has decided to suspend the organisation of the Lacoste Elysée Prize 2011. Introduced in 2010 to sustain young photographers, the prize is worth 25 000 euros.

In the context of the 2011 edition of the prize, eight nominees were selected to take part in the contest. They were asked to produce three photographs on the theme la joie de vivre. With the help of an individual grant of 4 000 euros, each nominee had carte blanche to interpret the theme in which ever way they favoured, in a direct or indirect manner, with authenticity or irony, based upon their existing or as an entirely new creation. An expert jury should have met at the end of January 2012 to select the winner of the Lacoste Elysée Prize 2011.

The Musée de l’Elysée has based its decision on the private partner’s wish to exclude Larissa Sansour, one of the prize nominees. We reaffirm our support to Larissa Sansour for the artistic quality of her work and her dedication. The Musée de l’Elysée has already proposed to her to present at the museum the series of photographs “Nation Estate”, which she submitted in the framework of the contest.

For 25 years, the Musée de l’Elysée has defended with strength artists, their work, freedom of the arts and of speech. With the decision it has taken today, the Musée de l’Elysée repeats its commitment to its fundamental values.

Sam Stourdzé, Director of the Musée de l’Elysée

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