Following criticism over the removal of Palestinian artist Larissa Sansour from the short list of the Lacoste Elysee prize, Lacoste announced today their decision to cancel participation and support to the Elysée Prize on the account of the situation, and in order to “avoid any misunderstanding.”
The Musée de l’Elysée also announced today that they have decided to suspend the competition, based on “the private partner’s wish to exclude Larissa Sansour.” They also added that they “reaffirm” their support for Sansour, for “the artistic quality of her work and her dedication.”
The museum said that their decision reaffirms “commitment” to their “fundamental values,” and said that the decision to suspend the prize is in line with their history of defending “artists, their work, freedom of the arts and of speech.”
While the Musée de l’Elysée is placing responsibility on the shoulders of Lacoste, the fashion brand said that both Lacoste and the Musée de l’Elysée “felt that the work at hand did not belong in the theme of joie de vivre (happiness).” Lacoste also added that the decision was only made known to Sansour after making an agreement with the museum.
Lacoste said that Sansour’s work did not fit the criteria for the prize, but the museum said that nominees “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.”
While both statements confirmed the approval of Sansour from the beginning, the objection to her work remains unclear. Lacoste denies implications that she was excluded “on political grounds,” but that it was merely a prize to “promote young photographers and provide them with an opportunity to increase their visibility.”
While both organisations claim to have suspended the competition, it is unclear as to whether or not this was a joint decision.