Award recognising freedom of expression in art returns with bigger purse of US$15,000

Indonesian visual artist FX Harsono poses with his 2008 installation, titled Bon Appetit, which is made up of dead butterflies on a dinner table. PHOTO: ST FILE

In its second edition, the Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art returns with a bigger grant of US$15,000 (S$20,916), up from US$5,000.

Presented by Singapore's leading contemporary art fair Art Stage Singapore and the Embassy of the United States of America in Singapore, this award recognises an artist from South-east Asia who is committed to freedom and expresses it through his or her work.

The inaugural award was conferred on Indonesian artist FX Harsono in January this year. Known for his critical installation and performance work, the Jakarta-based artist has long documented pro-democracy dissent and experiences of minorities. He was one of seven nominees who made the shortlist, along with Singapore performance artist Lee Wen.

Joseph Balestier was the first American diplomat accredited to Singapore, and was appointed US Consul to Singapore in 1836.

A jury of three South-east Asian art experts has been formed to select artists or curators from the region for this award.

Led by Professor Ute Meta Bauer, director of Singapore's Centre for Contemporary Art, the jury includes Ms Luckana Kunavichayanont, director of the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre and Mr Enin Supriyanto, a leading independent art curator and writer from Indonesia.

They will shortlist three artists and curators from among nominations submitted by art professionals from around the region. The shortlist will be announced on Jan 7.

The winner will be chosen by the US Embassy and Art Stage. Apart from the grant, the winner receives a trophy and certificate. These will be presented jointly on Jan 16, by US Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar together wi th the fair's director Lorenzo Rudolf. The next edition of Art Stage will be held from Jan 21 to 24 at the Marina Bay Sands Exhibition and Convention Centre.

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