Vincent Award 2014 goes to Anri Sala

The Albanian artist Anri Sala has been named as the winner of this year’s Vincent Award, one of the most important honours in the field of European contemporary art.
Sala beat of stiff competition from his fellow shortlisted nominees, which included France’s Pierre Huyghe, Germany’s Manfred Pernice, the Netherlands Willem de Rooij and the UK’s Gillian Wearing (who won the Turner Prize in 1997).
Benno Tempel, chairman of the international jury, lauded praise on the artist, saying that the installation was a superb work of art: “Sala succeeded the best in creating an installation where the viewer is constantly challenged by image, sound and movement,” Benno said. “He presents the idea of gone ideologies and the possibilities this creates for the future on an individual level.”
Born in 1974, Sala has emerged as one of the most interesting artists of his generation, specialising in the medium of video. His prize-winning installation, Le Clash and Tlatelolco Clash, was described by the jury as a “poetic and at the same time conceptual work”.
“He presents the idea of gone ideologies and the possibilities this creates for the future on an individual level,” they added at a ceremony held in the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague, Netherlands.
The work was the amalgamation of three existing pieces by the artist. The title references two of these and takes place in an abandoned modernist arts venue, as well as to Mexico City’s the Plaza of Three Cultures. Here we have the failure of a “Great Ideology”.
You see, Sala’s interest presently lies in junctures, “turning points in history”, whereby landmark events disrupt the hegemony of ostensible order and produces a new timeline, which, depending on your politics, ideals and understanding, either marks progress or regression.
It is an experience that he knows all too well, having felt the full force of the sociopolitical schism brought about by the collapse of the communist regime in Albania in 1991. Again, good or bad, revolutions create a strange sense of limbo in which the past, present and future wrestle to form a coherent identity and narrative.
“It’s a both great joy to have won but it’s frustrating that I cannot be there to celebrate and accept it in person,” he said via a video link. “Though this is maybe a little like my work, where the image is in one place and the sound is in another place, though I wish that both my voice and my presence could be there with you all. Thank you all so much for this award.”
Along with the title, Sala picked up a cheque for £40,000. More so, he carries with him the prestige of being a recognised artist of authority, one though to be “appreciably influencing the development of contemporary art in Europe”.
The jury said that the sixth edition of the Vincent Award – which was launched in 2000 – was characterised thematically by time – not a demand, but an offering: “Time to reflect, time to submerge and time to step into other worlds and perspectives. In our society, time consuming and multitasking is everywhere. We feel that questioning this is an important role of contemporary art.”
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