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2018 ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture

On 16 May, the European Cultural Foundation presented two laureates with the 2018 ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture: cultural centre Borderland (PL) and multidisciplinary research agency Forensic Architecture (UK).

With the 10th anniversary of the Award, we took a journey across the continent: From the cultural traditions of local communities in Poland to the field of experimental new media and architectural research operating from the capital of England.

We celebrated courageous citizens: Those rethinking and reframing how culture can bring about positive social change.

Both laureates have been recognised for their outstanding work addressing urgent contemporary challenges through a cultural lens. Their work shows us that we need to create generous and daring cultural concepts based on humanity, inclusion and empathy in order to generate a culture of coexistence in Europe.Both Borderland and Forensic Architecture see art as a way of exposing injustice in our communities, to help us recover and rethink the past in order to change the world. They also teach us the importance of working critically with memory and tangible matter to create a common story and means to be able to tell history in new and different ways.

The award was presented at the Stadsschouwburg Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and includes a sum of € 25.000 per laureate. 


Watch the highlights of the 2018 Award Ceremony.

Watch the presentation of Forensic Architecture by director Eyal Weizman.

Forensic Architecture (UK)

Forensic Architecture is a multidisciplinary research group based at Goldsmiths University, London. The international group of architects, artists, film-makers, scientists, political theorists, students and citizens engage in a form of investigative practice that traverses architectural, journalistic, legal and political fields, and moves from theoretical examination to practical application in a way that speaks to many publics.

Drawing on architectural knowledge and using novel technological and aesthetic methods, Forensic Architecture analyses matter – from bytes and pixels to actual buildings and climatic conditions – to make sense of the ways complex realities are organised and transformed by conflict. The stories they tell and visualise are intricate and inclusive: all facets and facts are combined to create a more complete picture. The carefully constructed narratives are presented as installations and sometimes used in court by Amnesty International, NGOs and the UN. 

Forensic Architecture redefines aesthetic practice as a form of intensifying possibilities of seeing and listening, one that courageously changes the way in which human rights controversies are investigated. Thanks to the group’s ground-breaking media research and innovative aesthetic process, Forensic Architecture is also reframing the potential of art in the public sphere.

Borderland (PL)

Borderland is both a foundation (NGO, founded in 1990) and a local centre for cultural encounters, creation and reflection (Centre Borderland of Arts, Cultures and Nations, founded in 1991). It is based in the Sejny-Suwałki border region of Poland, an area far from the big city museums and tourist destinations. The region has been shaped by cultural diversity yet is also marked by ethnic divisions.

Borderland brings back to the community the artistic imagination of cultures that have disappeared – using a wide range of activities such as exhibitions and (youth) theatre. The foundation also has an internationally renowned Klezmer orchestra (a musical tradition of Ashkenazi Jews in Eastern Europe) and organises workshops and symposiums on cross-cultural dialogue for scholars and cultural practitioners from across the globe.

Borderland’s activities bring living culture into dialogue with the region’s rich heritage, bridging different generations, languages, world views, professions and life experiences and contributing to a culture of solidarity for the future.


2018 Jury

An international and interdisciplinary Jury convened in January 2018 to assess the nominations and select the two laureates of 2018.
The Jury members are:

  • Tessa Boerman (filmmaker, Amsterdam)
  • Andreas Broeckmann (curator, Leuphana Arts Program, Lüneburg/Berlin)
  • Juan Freire (Academic Dean, Tecnológico de Monterrey Business School, Mexico City)
  • Ivan Krastev (chairman of the Centre for Liberal Strategies, Sofia)
  • Ruth Mackenzie (artistic leader, Holland Festival, Amsterdam and artistic director, Châtelet Theatre, Paris)

The Award Shortlist of 2018

This year, we also highlight the extraordinary candidates selected for the shortlist of the 2018 Award. In the summer months, we will introduce these candidates to you through a series of interviews. Candidates for the 2018 Award shortlist include: Association Krokodil, Kaos GL, Kuratorisk Aktion, Marika Schmiedt, Teatr Powszechny, and Teatr.Doc.


Idea Camp 2017. Photo by César Lucas Abreu.

Idea Camp 2017. Photo by César Lucas Abreu.

European Cultural Challenge 2018

Prior to the festive award ceremony the first European Cultural Challenge took place. A two-day advocacy retreat that brought together laureates, grantees, partners, researchers, foundations, media-makers and policy-makers to work on tangible cases that fuel positive change through culture.

Through this challenge the European Cultural Foundation connects changemakers and contribute to rethinking and building Europe as an open, inclusive and democratic space. Outcomes of the European Cultural Challenge may vary from exploring cultural solutions to imagining campaigns and developing concrete advocacy proposals. 

The event took place on 15 and 16 May at Hotel Arena, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

Excerpt from  How to change the world as an individual &nbsp;by Lia Perjovschi

Excerpt from How to change the world as an individual by Lia Perjovschi

New publication
Courageous Citizens: How Culture Contributes to Social Change

This book is published on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the ECF Princess Margriet Award for Culture. It is an advocate for the change-making capacity of culture. It is also a source of inspiration for renegotiating our understanding of the world and affirming culture as a critical space to practice courage and perseverance amid complex societal reconfigurations.