State of the ART(ist)

Credit: I Will Close the Sky So You Could Breathe / Daria Pugachova (UA), Photo: Ivan Nikolov

Cultural Diplomacy & the Freedom of Art

Submission start: March 15, 2023
Submission Deadline: April 28, 2023

State of the ART(ist), a collaborative project between the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ars Electronica, was established in 2022. The starting point of this initiative was Russia’s brutal acts of war on Ukrainian soil, with its complex effects on world affairs and the individual lives of artistically engaged citizens, that provided the impetus for the initiative’s orientation.

In 2023, the fundamental question of the prize will be widened and adapted to the conditions that characterise the context of risk and existential insecurity in the current global reality. The State of the ART(ist) Initiative 2023 focuses on those global issues that originate from different sources, but whose consequences lead to similarly precarious conditions and circumstances for individual artists. Existential threat scenarios for artists are an oppressive reality with different origins and backgrounds.

This year’s focus is on artists whose livelihood is massively affected by the impact of the following threatening situations:

  • Trouble spots, political interference and warlike aggression
  • Lack of freedom of expression or social repression of individual lifestyles
  • Natural disasters or consequences of the climate crisis, leading to radically changed living conditions
  • Consequences of global trade and economy: Social injustice through production and working conditions, as well as exploitation of raw materials and environmental pollution

The prize is aimed exclusively at artists who find themselves in situations and places that can be directly linked to the above criteria and whose individual life situation is therefore characterised by “uncertainty” and “risk”. The answer to the question “What is Risk?” becomes a basic requirement for a valid submission. However, this aspect does not constitute an evaluation criterion for the jury. The jury’s work and the selection of the winners will be based exclusively on the artistic quality of the submitted works.

What the winners can expect

An international jury, consisting of five renowned personalities from the international media art and curatorial world, representing international institutions, will not only make a qualitative selection, but also provide the social contact opportunities to advance the careers of the artists.

2 Main Prizes: The two winning projects will each receive 3,000 euros in prize money.

Up to 8 Honorary Mentions: Each honorary mention will receive 750 euros presentation fee.

Credit: Donate / Ivan Svitlychnyi (UA)

The selected 10 winning projects will be presented in a curated physical exhibition within the Ars Electronica Festival 2023 in Linz, Austria. The curators as well as selected artists are invited to visit us in Linz and to actively participate in the festival program. The ones that cannot join us will be part of the program through hybrid and digital media.

Photo: Florian Voggeneder

The Festival TV Channel will highlight the winners of the initiative. Curated lectures and talks, artistic presentations, and surprising interventions will be live-streamed through the channel and freely accessible online via the festival website and online exhibition space.

The virtual Kunsthalle, an online documentation and action space is freely accessible during the festival and beyond, inviting international experts to explore the winning works.

All submitted works will be integrated into the Ars Electronica Archive, one of the world’s most comprehensive archives on digital media art since 1979.

This initiative is aimed at creatives living at risk to provide concrete financial support and visibility to artists living in oppressed political systems. But it also wants to take the urgency of the drastic situation for artists in many countries to ask the global question of where political influence and aggression are preventing artists from taking their role for and in society.

Open Call

The State of the ART(ist) Initiative is looking for works, actions, projects and communal activities that locate themselves at the intersection of human rights and the arts. We want to create a platform and visibility for artists and creatives who are at risk politically and fleeing oppression and war globally. The open call is dedicated to supporting persecuted art practitioners and including them in our online “Action and Documentation Space” and in an exhibition during the Ars Electronica Festival 2023.

Artists, creatives, curators, writers, critics, scientists, entrepreneurs, associations, public institutions, NGOs, or private enterprises (not limited to), no matter if individuals or groups, can enter the open call. Submission can be made either personalized or anonymously, but we require one contact email address. Commercial or propaganda projects are not eligible for the competition. The focus is on the message and activity rather than on the tools and materials used to express it.

Project that can be submitted (for example and not exclusively):

  • All winning projects and actions will be presented in an online space that serves simultaneously as a documentation and action space for the free expression of artists.
  • All winning works will be presented in a physical exhibition during the Ars Electronica Festival 2023 (6. – 10. September 2023 in Linz, Austria)
  • An advisory committee of 20 experts will be invited to share the initiative with their communities and to invite artists to submit to the call.
  • The online space will technically ensure that the integrity and privacy of the submitters is protected. (as well as their anonymity, if desired).
  • However, it will also serve as a digital marketplace for all submitting artists whose carving has been prevented or made impossible.
  • An international board of experts, consisting of renowned personalities from the international art and curatorial world, will not only make a qualitative selection, but also provide the social contact opportunities between submitters and curators that are so important for the continuation of an artistic career.

The Initiative is positioned close to the Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity and benefits from the already existing and fruitful collaboration between Ars Electronica and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Foreign Affairs. It strives for a longer-term collaboration and devotes itself to the central question of freedom and art to be an offer for the coming years for the artists in focus in each case. The Ars Electronica Festival provides an international platform and visibility for the presentation of the submitted works. 


March 15, 2023Start of the worldwide Open Call
April 28, 2023Submission deadline
May 2023Jury Meeting
June 29, 2023The 2023 winners are presented
September 6 – 10, 20232023 Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria
Ars Electronica

The State of ART(ist) Initiative is a collaborative project between the Austrian Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs and Ars Electronica.