First of all I must send a belated congratulation to Ana González for winning the prize for “Best International Artist” out of 850 participants at the Florence Biennial of Contemporary Art (2007). Her triptych artwork “Alicia” was the piece that won her that prize.
What bugs me about her being awarded the prize is the following: I simply hate it when an artist gets acclaimed through art related to the misery and suffering of others and I believe that in part she was awarded the prize due to the VERY high media profile worldwide of the occurrences in Colombia during December of 2007 when the hostage mediation and return of three Colombians kidnapped by the FARC (a group still defined as terrorist by most countries of the world) was spotlighted by the world´s media. I am convinced that this aided the judges in reaching their decision.
Now, please do not misunderstand me. I think Ms González is a gifted artist and surely worthy of the prize – but I bet you, if we were in the middle of another Tianaman Square type incident, the prize would have gone to a Chinese “political” artwork.
Think about it. Am I wrong? I don´t believe so. And that´s where I wonder if there´s any real artistic value attached to the giving of such prizes when they are tainted by political stains. Sure if an artist wants to relate their art to political activities well that´s fine. But to be awarded a prize based upon that – that´s not fine, unless of course such a message was included within the rules of the Biennial. But of course it isn´t.
So ok, I was not privy to the jury´s discussions and thoughts and I would not want the artist to be disappointed were she to read my words. However, I think that any artist, if their work is based on world events or politics should really stop and wonder if they are being given a prize for their art or for their political viewpoint. Now, that thought may well disappoint some of them or at least their egos. But then most artists have a hard skin when it comes to criticism so I imagine they´ll get over it . . . . but maybe it´ll make them think a bit more about the intrinsic value of the prizes they receive for their “art”. And also, perhaps it will make the judges reconsider how they should be giving out those prizes for to continue such practices is to devalue their worth.