20th December 2011


French fashion brand demands the removal of Bethlehem artist Larissa Sansour from major photographic prize.

The prestigious €25,000 Lacoste Elysée Prize is awarded by the Swiss Musée de l’Elysée with sponsorship from Lacoste, the clothing brand.

Larissa Sansour was among the eight artists shortlisted for the 2011 prize. In December 2011, Lacoste demanded that her nomination be revoked. Lacoste stated their refusal to support Sansour’s work, labelling it ‘too pro-Palestinian’. A special jury will convene in January 2012 to select the winner.

As a nominee, Sansour was awarded a bursary of €4,000 and given carte blanche to produce a portfolio of images for the final judging. In November 2011, three photos for Sansour’s Nation Estate project were accepted, and she was congratulated by the prize administrators on her work and professionalism. Sansour’s name was included on all the literature relating to the prize and on the website as an official nominee. Her name has since been removed, just as her project has been withdrawn from an upcoming issue of contemporary art magazine ArtReview introducing the nominated artists.

In an attempt to mask the reasons for her dismissal, Sansour was asked to approve a statement saying that she withdrew from her nomination ‘in order to pursue other opportunities’. Sansour has refused.

Sansour says: “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. Lacoste’s prejudice and censorship puts a major dent in the idea of corporate involvement in the arts. It is deeply worrying.”

Sansour’s shortlisted work, Nation Estate, is conceived in the wake of the Palestinian bid for UN membership. Nation Estate depicts a science fiction-style Palestinian state in the form of a single skyscraper housing the entire Palestinian population. Inside this new Nation Estate, the residents have recreated their lost cities on separate floors: Jerusalem on 3, Ramallah on 4, Sansour’s own hometown of Bethlehem on 5, etc.

Regretting Lacoste’s decision to censor Sansour’s work, Musée de l’Elysée has offered to exhibit the Nation Estate project outside of the confines of the Lacoste sponsorship. Musée de l’Elysée is based in Lausanne, Switzerland. The Lacoste Elysée Prize 2011 is the award’s second edition.

Please find attached three photos from Sansour’s Nation Estate project.
For further information and interviews: Larissa Sansour or assistant Soren Lind on +44 784 9011 977 and

Born in Jerusalem, Larissa Sansour studied Fine Art in Copenhagen, London and New York. Her work is interdisciplinary, immersed in the current political dialogue and utilises video art, photography, experimental documentary, the book form and the internet.

Sansour’s work features in galleries, museums, film festivals and art publications worldwide. Recent solo shows include exhibitions at Kulturhuset in Stockholm, Depo in Istanbul, Galerie La BANK in Paris and Jack the Pelican in New York.

She has participated in the biennials in Istanbul, Busan and Liverpool. Her work has appeared at venues such as Tate Modern, London; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; the Third Guangzhou Triennial, China; Alternative Space LOOP, Seoul; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Iniva, London; Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Al Hoash, Jerusalem; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; MOCA, Hiroshima; PhotoCairo4, Egypt.

Sansour’s short film A Space Exodus was nominated in the Best Short category at the Dubai International Film Festival.

She lives and works in London.

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Press release

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 a 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, +41 21 316 99 10,