The 2011 ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture was presented to visual artists Šejla Kamerić and Kutluğ Ataman. The Jury’s choice sent out a strong signal that the diverse social landscape of Europe is vividly depicted by the artistic imagination. The awards ceremony took place on 8 February 2011 in Brussels.
The work of Šejla Kamerić, who was born in Sarajevo, is both intimate and socially engaged.
In recent years, Kamerić has focused on filmmaking. Her four-channel film installation What Do I Know (2007) was set in her grandparents' house in Fojnica, central Bosnia-Herzegovina. It movingly reveals how memories are actively constructed rather than passively recalled. Her short film, Glück (2009), was shown at the ECF Princess Margriet Award public programme in Rotterdam in 2011.
The jury appreciated Kamerić’s originality and independence of mind in confronting people with their own and others people's prejudices. However, she is far from being a simple conveyor of messages. Kamerić obsessively focuses on details in a way that most people would not. Her concern with deeply personal realities surviving through memory was hailed by the jury as part of a wider preoccupation with borders both metaphysical and real: national borders, geo-political city borders of inclusion and exclusion, as well as invisible borders in time, between past and future.
Kutluğ Ataman is one of Turkey's most highly regarded contemporary artists.
Often his work records, patiently and challengingly, the lives of those on the edges of society. The jury specifically praised Küba, an installation showing 40 interviews on 40 old-fashioned TV sets. The work took three years to make. Ataman spent the first months simply living among the shunned inhabitants of a shanty town on the edge of Istanbul. These portraits do not look for an objective truth, but follow the biographical, historical and contemporary routes of different lives, with all their idiosyncrasies and contradictions.
Ataman's evolving cycle of works, Mesopotamian Dramaturgies, reveals the artist’s interest in the relationship between tradition and globalisation. A key work in the series, Journey to the Moon (2009), was shown as part of an extended ECF Princess Margriet Award public programme at the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen in Rotterdam. Ataman is an artist whose work defies conventional subject categories, demonstrating that a new aesthetic and understanding can emerge from the transformative power of storytelling.
In the early months of 2010, ECF invited nominations from a broad network of experts in different regions and cultural practice disciplines. A shortlist was then drawn up on the basis of further research, and second opinions gathered from advisers in ECF’s network. The jury met in the summer of 2010 for an in-depth assessment of the shortlisted laureates and selected the two recipients.
2011 Award Jury
- Iara Boubnova, Founding Director, Institute of Contemporary Art, Sofia, Bulgaria
- Hilary Carty, Director, Cultural Leadership Programme, UK
- Sudeep Dasgupta, Associate Professor, Department of Media & Culture, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
- Robert Palmer (Jury chair), Director of Culture, Cultural and Natural Heritage, Council of Europe, Strasbourg, France.
In the setting of the Royal Flemish Theatre, the award ceremony combined artistic performance, portraits and speeches that made the case for art as the best means of imagining the future differently. Jury member, Hilary Carty, praised Kamerić and Ataman as two artists who were not only challenging reality in their work but were subverting it, and with a purpose.
In the annual address, HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands noted, "we must acknowledge diversity, and do so in all honesty". She praised the laureates for helping us to arrive at a better understanding of our own complexity so that we fear the complexity of other people and cultures less. Guest speaker Charles Esche, Director of the Van Abbemuseum, identified good artists as being 'social seismographs' whose work reveals how we can live together, free of fear.