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$1 Million Nomura Art Award goes to Colombian Artist Doris Salcedo

Doris Salcedo Courtesy of Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. Photo by David Heald

At a gala dinner and ceremony held this evening in Shanghai, China, Nomura announced that the winner of the first annual Nomura Art Award is the renowned Colombian artist Doris Salcedo.

The largest cash prize in contemporary visual arts, the US$1 million Nomura Art Award is given by the decision of an independent, international jury to an artist who has created a body of work of major cultural significance. To help this artist take on new challenges and embrace change, the prize money is used in whole or in part to support an ambitious new project that the winner did not previously have the means to realize.

In announcing the award, Hajime Ikeda, Senior Managing Director of Nomura, said: “We offer this Award to Doris Salcedo in recognition of the deeply meaningful and formally inventive body of work she has created over the past quarter of a century. By selecting her to receive the first Nomura Art Award, the jury has perfectly understood our goal of fostering innovation and striving to deliver a better tomorrow. Like Nomura, Doris Salcedo does not shy away from change but rather is determined to be a game-changer. We are proud that this Award will help her to create her next important project.”

Doris Salcedo said: “The news that I had been chosen to receive the inaugural Nomura Art Award was entirely unexpected and filled me with overwhelming humility and gratitude for the generosity and responsibility that come with this great honor. Producing projects capable of honoring the experience of victims of violence requires a large investment in time and organization, sometimes with many collaborators. Because of this Award, I am now able to move ahead much more quickly than I had expected with a project that is important to me, and that I hope will touch many people. I offer my deepest thanks to Nomura and to the members of the jury.”

Speaking on behalf of the jury, Nicholas Serota said: “For more than thirty years, Doris Salcedo has been making sculptures and installations that capture the anguish associated with the loss of loved ones and preserve the memory of traumatic events in the long civil war in Colombia. However, her language has an empathy and her materials an everyday character that give her work a universal meaning that speaks to people across the world.”

The Nomura Art Award will help Doris Salcedo continue a major series of her works, titled Acts of Mourning, which she has been creating since 1999. These ephemeral, large-scale works have been made with the collaboration of thousands of people and are intended to give the community symbolic tools to cope with the enduring pain of violent conflict in Colombia.

To date, Doris Salcedo has created and presented the Acts of Mourning in the center of Bogotá, with the most recent—titled Quebrantos (Shattered), a memorial to community leads who have been murdered—performed on June 10, 2019. The artist now intends to continue the series outside of Bogotá, in the remote regions of Colombia that have suffered disproportionately from the civil war.

The Nomura Art Award will help to fund the indispensable research phase of this project, in which the artist visits communities, establishes relationships with the people, listens to their testimonies and eventually develops a piece that she submits to them for realization.

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