Larissa Sansour, The Nation Estate (production still, 2012)
Sketches from Larissa Sansour’s ‘The Nation Estate’ are currently on view at Cornerhouse, Manchester as part of Subversion. Click here for more info.
It has been some months now since the 20th of December 2011, when Larissa Sansour sent out a press release with the subject heading, ‘No Room for Palestinian Art’. At the time, Sansour was shortlisted for a Lacoste-sponsored photography prize by the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne. Offered a €4,000 production fee, the London-based artist was invited to develop a proposal for judging. She professed to being allowed free reign by the museum staff with whom she was in contact. However, in December, Lacoste made demands that Sansour’s nomination be revoked, deeming Sansour’s work ‘too pro-Palestinian’ to support.
The artist’s dismay continued when the museum asked her to sign an agreement, which asserted that she had chosen to withdraw herself from the competition. Within 24 hours of sending out her own press release, there ensued an outpouring of support for Sansour from around the world, gaining such leverage that – days later – the museum decided to cancel the prize altogether, and to forego its associations with Lacoste. While the ordeal could be interpreted as a depressing indication of our current socio-political condition, not to mention our increasing reliance in Europe on corporate sponsorship, the flipside is arguably reassuring. The way in which Sansour was able to gain momentum from online activists, news outlets and the press may well be evidence that an informal system of checks and balances exists within certain realms of the European cultural sphere.