Press Release - Yael Bartana Awarded Artes Mundi 4 Prize

Date posted: May 20, 2010

Political and social change portrayed by winning artist of the UK’s Largest Art Prize

The 4th Artes Mundi Prize for contemporary art of £40,000 was awarded to Yael Bartana from Israel at National Museum Cardiff last night, 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 last night 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 international selection and judging processes are supported by Bank of America Merrill Lynch as part of their international programme of arts support.

Rena DeSisto, Global Arts and Heritage executive, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said: “Artes Mundi, through its biennial celebration of the work of emerging artists from around the world, brings exciting artistic talent and their extraordinary cultural experiences to an international stage. This initiative reflects Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s belief that worldwide cultural understanding leads to improved economic opportunities for all.

“Bank of America Merrill Lynch wishes to congratulate all shortlisted artists and particularly the winning artist, Yael Bartana. We hope visitors will enjoy this enlightening exhibition.”

Joining Bank of America Merill Lynch as sponsors of Artes Mundi 4 are Admiral, Legal & General, the Western Mail, Sky Arts, First Great Western, Starbucks, and St David’s Dewi Sant, the recently opened new shopping centre in Cardiff that has also invested significantly into public art in the city.  In recognition of their creative partnerships with the corporate sector, Artes Mundi 4 has been funded through the Arts & Business Investment Programme.

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.


Press information: Jeanette Ward at Theresa Simon & Partners
+44 (0) 20 7734 4800 | +44 (0) 7729 930 812 |
Images are available at


Catrin Mears, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales
029 2057 3185 / 07920 027067 /


Visitor information:
Artes Mundi 4: Yael Bartana, Fernando Bryce, Ergin Çavuşoğlu, Chen Chieh-jen, Olga Chernysheva, Gulnara Kasmalieva & Muratbek Djumaliev and Adrian Paci
11 March – 6 June 2010
Exhibition open 10 am – 5 pm, Tuesday – Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays
National Museum Cardiff | Cathays Park | Cardiff | CF10 3NP
Free entry | +44 (0) 29 2039 7951 |


Further information about Artes Mundi:





1.  Shortlisted artists

Yael Bartana (b. Israel, 1970. Lives Amsterdam and Israel) creates complex visualisations with photography, film, video, sound and installation. Using documentation and re-enactments she moves between playfulness and seriousness 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. Her works are visually and intellectually intriguing and centre upon human relationships as much as politics.

Bartana’s recent solo exhibitions include those at PS1, New York; Foksal Gallery, Warsaw, Poland; Center for Contemporary Art, Tel Aviv, Israel; The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada.

Fernando Bryce (b. Peru, 1965. Lives Berlin) stopped painting over ten years ago to work primarily in Indian ink.  He is interested in examining how visual and written media create and convey a perception of a country, a people, or an historical event. He adopts a drawing style that is reminiscent of mid 20th century comic strips and re-presents printed material he finds, from political propaganda to promotional literature.  Through this process of copying, he highlights the ways in which facts are constructed, culture is described and history is reported.  Through his reproductions he questions the credibility of the printed page.

Recently Bryce has exhibited at Museum Het Domein in The Netherlands, Barbara Thumm Gallery, Berlin and the Fundación Antoni Tapiés, Barcelona.  His work was included in exhibitions at the 53rd Venice Biennale and recently as part of a Hayward touring exhibition in conjunction with the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, The Bluecoat, Liverpool and other venues.

Ergin Çavuşoğlu’s (b. Bulgaria, 1968. Lives London) film and video installations are meditations on the ever shifting aspects of today’s globalised society.  Travel, migration, mobility, together with old and new orders or notions of east and west – are explored, hinting at how we are all caught up in the bigger issues of today. Raised in Bulgaria as part of a Turkish minority and now based in London, he draws on his own experiences and intends his work to be poetic representations, exposing the boundaries of urban life that lie between the private and public domains. He is also interested to ask questions about the artistic image and its capacity to observe socio-cultural landscapes and human geographies.

The artist’s recent exhibitions include representing Turkey at the Venice Biennale 2003, 8th Istanbul Biennial 2003, 3rd Berlin Biennale 2004, Becks Futures 2004 and British Art Show 6, as well as solo shows at Haunch of Venison and Dundee Contemporary Arts.


Olga Chernysheva (b. Russia, 1962. Lives Moscow, Russia) uses a range of media to produce artworks that explore contemporary Russia.  Based in Moscow her subjects are often observed negotiating a society in turbulence, where the sense of a shared future has disappeared.  Her films, photographs, drawings and object-based works go beyond any appearance of the documentary and become lyrical images of individuals trying to make sense of their lives at a time when society is in obvious flux.  Ordinary experiences become extraordinary and the viewer becomes aware of him or herself observing, critiquing others and their lives.  She focuses on figures, on individuals offering a penetrating, psychological atmosphere.

Recent exhibitions include the International Centre of Photography Triennial, New York; Baibakov Art Projects, Moscow Biennial; LMCC Lent Space, New York; Yapı Kredi Kâzım Taşkent Art Gallery, Istanbul Biennial and MoMA, New York.


Chen Chieh-jen (b. Taiwan, 1960. Lives Taiwan) works with photography, film, installation and performance to explore issues connected to globalisation, in particular labour, consumerism and migration. He makes work as an act of resistance, describing it “as an act of connection, linking together the history of people who have been excluded from the dominant discourse, the real-life situations of areas that are being ignored, and ‘others’ who are being isolated. In this way, I resist the state of amnesia in consumer society.”  Chieh-jen is interested in Taiwan’s particular position, seen by many as an independent country, but by China as one of its states.  The precision and elegance of his work belies the corruption and unfair nature of life.

Chen Chieh-jen’s work was included in the Taiwan Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale. He first showed in the Taiwan Pavilion in 1999 at the 48th Venice Biennale. In 2005 he was one of 41 artists presented by curator Maria de Corral in the Italian Pavilion, The experience of art, at the 51st Venice Biennale.

Gulnara Kasmalieva and Muratbek Djumaliev (both artists born Kyrgyzstan, 1960 & 1965 respectively.) live and work together in Bishek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, a country which has been at the centre of change and protest since the collapse of the Soviet Union.  As a result their work offers a complex insight into modern Russia and Central Asia.  Through video and photographic installations they explore how the fall of communism has affected the lives of thousands of Kyrgyz people.  In one five channel installation they examine how economic and political unrest has changed the value of goods on the Great Silk Road, causing many to flee the country.   

Adrian Paci (b. Albania, 1969. Lives Italy) re-creates personal experiences using the techniques of traditional storytelling. He reflects upon his own unsettled history as a displaced person, a situation which many are now forced to experience. In 1997 he moved to Italy where he continues to live with his family. He addresses Albania’s painful politics and the realities of migration in film, photography and painting. In his early work he re-created very personal experiences within his family circle, with his more recent work he draws upon the universal.  In doing so he does not hesitate to mix imagination and reality, combining humour, pathos and a sensitivity to subject matter.

Among other venues, Paci has shown at Frieze Art Fair with Milan’s Francesca Kaufmann Gallery, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, PS1 Contemporary Art Centre, Tate Modern, Kunsthalle Fridericianum and the Seville and Venice biennials.


2.  Selectors for Artes Mundi 4

Levent Çalikoğlu is Chief Curator at Istanbul Museum of Modern Art and lectures at Yıldız Technical University, Faculty of Arts and Design and at the Arts Management Department, Istanbul.  He also acts as consultant to the Akbank Culture and Art Center in Istanbul and the Dr. Nejat F. Eczacıbaşı Foundation.  He has published various articles and reviews on Modern and Contemporary Turkish Art and since 1998 he has curated a number of international exhibitions.

Viktor Misiano is both a curator and an art critic based in Moscow and Italy.  For ten years he was a curator in The Pushkin State Museum, and then went on to become Director of the Contemporary Art Center (CAC) in Moscow.  He has been the curator of numerous exhibitions all over the world, including the Russian participations in the Istanbul Biennial (1992), the Venice Biennale (1995, 2003), the São Paulo Biennial (2002, 2004), and the Valencia Biennial (2001). Misiano curated the 51st Venice Biennale’s Central Asian Pavilion in 2005 and served as a consultant for the 52nd Venice Biennale’s Central Asian Pavilion in 2007.  He is the founding editor-in-chief of Moscow Art Magazine.  He has been awarded an honorary doctorate by Helsinki University for Art and Design. 


3. Judges for Artes Mundi 4

Eugenio Dittborn is a Chilean artist (b. 1943) who has been making ‘Airmail Paintings’ since 1984, cheap lightweight works that constantly travel the world.

Hannah Firth is a curator and Head of Visual Arts at Chapter in Cardiff. Her previous roles include: curator for Wales at the 52nd Venice Biennale of Art (2007), Managing Editor for a-n Magazine (1994-1998) and curator at Stills Gallery in Edinburgh (1998-2001).

Professor Sarat Maharaj is Professor of Visual Art & Knowledge Systems, Lund University & the Malmo Art Academies, Sweden.  He was formerly Professor of History & Theory of Art at Goldsmiths, London 1980 -2005, first Rudolf Arnheim Professor, Humboldt University, Berlin (2001-02) and Research Fellow at the Jan Van Eyck Akademie, Maastricht (1999-2001).  He co-curated Documenta XI with Okwui Enwezor (Kassel. 2002).

Adam Szymczyk has been the Director and Chief Curator of Kunsthalle Basel since 2003.

Octavio Zaya is an independent curator and art writer based in New York.  He is Director of Atlántica, Curator at Large, Advisor of MUSAC (León, Spain), a member of the Advisory Board of Performa (New York) and is on the Editorial Board of Nka Journal of Contemporary African Art (Cornell University, NY).


4.  Artes Mundi ( is an international contemporary visual arts initiative, committed to recognising exciting artists from around the world whose work discusses the human condition and adds to our understanding of humanity.  Every two years its programme culminates in the major Artes Mundi Exhibition in Cardiff, Wales and the awarding of the prestigious Artes Mundi Prize. The programme also includes visiting artist presentations, activity with schools and communities, debates and discussions as well as a purchasing programme for the national collections of Wales. Past winners are: NS Harsha (India) 2008; Eija-Liisa Ahtila (Finland) 2006; Xu Bing (China) 2004.

Artes Mundi was established in 2002 with the support of the Welsh Assembly Government, the Cardiff Council, Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum of Wales, all of whom remain as partners. Artes Mundi Prize Limited is an independent charitable trust and a company limited by guarantee.


5.  National Museum Wales ( operates seven national museums including National Museum Cardiff based in the centre of Cardiff, which has hosted the major Artes Mundi exhibition showcasing work by the shortlisted artists, every two years since the first in 2004.

The partnership between Artes Mundi and National Museum Wales has developed over the years, with the exhibition now forming an important part of National Museum Cardiff’s programming.  The exhibition itself, which is free thanks to the Welsh Assembly Government, attracted around 70,000 visits in 2008.

The Museum famous for its art collection, which is recognised as one of the finest in Europe, is currently developing its galleries which will benefit Artes Mundi in the future.  National Museum Wales’ long term aspiration is to establish a ‘National Gallery of Art for Wales.’  As a step to achieve this goal, the Museum is giving the country’s collections clearer definition, by extending their display over the entire first floor of National Museum Cardiff.  This will create an additional 40% of new display space.

6.    Bank of America Merrill Lynch (

As a company doing business in more than 150 countries, and with almost 300,000 associates, Bank of America Merrill Lynch strives to promote greater cultural understanding worldwide in the firm belief that this will lead to improved economic opportunities. Built on a foundation of responsible business practices and good corporate citizenship, the company’s global commitment to the arts is demonstrated through its support of a broad range of programmes. These include sponsorship of travelling performances and special exhibitions, and turning the company’s art collection into a public resource through the Art in our Communities® programme, lending complete exhibitions to museums and galleries free of charge.  In addition, the Bank of America Foundation provides philanthropic support to a range of arts organisations, from grass roots arts education programmes to world-class institutions that play a role in creating a more culturally-aware society.

7.  Admiral Group ( has supported and continues to support a number of arts organisations within South Wales. Admiral do this because they believe it is important to share their success with the communities from which their staff come.

8.  Arts & Business ( is a UK membership organisation and Prince’s Charity established in 1976.  Its role is to promote, enable, develop and sustain mutually beneficial partnerships between business and the arts.  Artes Mundi has received support from Arts & Business Cymru through its Investment programme, which is funded by the Welsh Assembly Government and Arts Council of Wales.

9.  Private support for Artes Mundi comes from the Derek Williams Trust, the Colwinston Charitable Trust, the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, the Myristica Trust and the Derek Hill Foundation.

10. Further web links

Arts Council of Wales
Cardiff Council  
Legal & General  
Saville Audio Visual 
Welsh Assembly Government 
Western Mail                                 

11.  Artes Mundi 4 is supported by Welsh Assembly Government, City and County of Cardiff, Arts Council of Wales and Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.

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