State of the ART(ist), a collaborative project between the Austrian Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs and Ars Electronica, was established in 2022. The State of the ART(ist) Initiative continues in 2023 with a significantly expanded new focus. 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, who 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 characterize 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.
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 characterized 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.
The jury has carefully considered the submissions, reflecting on the essence of being an artist at risk. We recognize the immense risks faced by these artists, including living under war and conflict, enduring violations of basic human rights such as freedom of speech and artistic expression and facing persecution for political reasons, race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation.
In an important development of the State of the ART(ist) 2023, the jury has also taken into account the risks associated with environmental breakdown. This includes the direct threats posed by climate change and biodiversity loss, as well as the specific forces—individual, corporate and governmental—that endanger the lives and livelihoods of activists, organizers and communities at the forefront of extraction and destruction.
We hold great appreciation for the artistic vision that offers unique approaches to making invisible issues visible. The selection process prioritized works that showcase and engage with human values, highlight overlooked conflicts and contribute to a greater understanding of environmental concerns.
We value the contributions of artists who have been silenced or repressed in various contexts, ranging from Ukraine, Iraq, Kurdistan, to Myanmar and Nigeria. Their voices and expressions enrich our collective understanding and serve as a testament to the unwavering courage and resilience of the human spirit.
We are profoundly inspired by the courage and resilience demonstrated by artists living and working in challenging situations around the world. Together, we stand united in our commitment to fostering an environment that nurtures and protects their invaluable contributions to the cultural fabric of our global community.
The State of the ART(ist) 2023 Open Call has garnered tremendous response, with a staggering 564 submissions received from artists residing in 58 different countries. This overwhelming participation serves as a testament to the global resonance of the State of the ART(ist) Initiative, which aims to shed light on the challenging conditions faced by artists worldwide.Jurystatement: Christl Baur (DE), Ivor Stodolsky (DE/FI), Leila Nachawati Rego (SY/ES), Lucia Pietroiusti (IT), Marita Muukkonen (FI), Martin Honzik (AT), Simon Mraz (AT)
Indigene Corefio |Huuke Harris (ZA), /Xam Sam Fortuin (ZA), Xopher Wallace (ZA), Dr Diana Ferrus (ZA), Sthando Masuku (ZA), Elder Nkosenathi Koela (ZA)
!Habesi is a multi-disciplinary exhibition of fine art, poetry, photography, indigenous instrumentation and augmented reality intended to highlight the multiple genocides, epistemicides and acts of violence inflicted on indigenous communities everywhere. !Habesi is a creative exploration intended to highlight indigenous land rights in South Africa and the world. !Habesi venerates a living archive and consciousness…
Taiye Ojo (NG)
Although widely referenced in popular culture as a victim of Big Oil, corruption and pollution, Ogoniland remains one of the most beautiful and biodiverse ecosystems in the world. However, chronic oil spillages and waste dumping is turning Ogoniland into a living hell for millions of its indigenes.
Kira Xonorika (PY)
This project explores futurism through centering multidimensional ecologies in conjunction with trans and Indigenous epistemologies. It aims to resist the homogenizing tendencies of AI systems and cultural amalgamation perpetuated through colonialism by constellating multimodality and magic.
Ümit Güç (TR)
Footprints of Ants is the story of Syrian refugees and local agricultural workers living in a tent camp where poverty and anger are driving forces. A search for two missing children evolves into a search for human values. The film is structured in four parts: Pain, Journey, Search and Ricat, exploring themes such as searching,…
Alevtina Kakhidze (UA)
The 360-degree format film is added by herbariums.
Mahsa Aleph (IR)
I am the aggregate of all words spoken to me. Ibn ʿArabi The word “jowhar” has several meanings in the Persian language: ink, essence, gem, nucleus, origin. The sentence on the paper scrolls is taken from a note in my notebook written in 2013. Translation: Future is merely a part of the past which has…
Kholod Hawash (IQ)
The project is a textile with figurative artworks, attached to the walls. Art can be more alive through technologies that are closer to our lives.
Mac Andre Arboleda (PH) and Rollyna Domingo (PH)
Pictures of Nothing is a meditation on looking, in a world with non-humans, using camera trap data of the elusive and endangered Palawan binturong in the Philippines.
Ars Electronica (AT), Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (AT)
Launched as a joint project of Ars Electronica and the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2022, State of the Art(ist) sets a thematic focus each year.
Ma Ei (MM)
The recent coup in our country has caused significant disruption to our democracy, leaving many citizens in distress. Our situation is dire and we cannot achieve a peaceful resolution alone. I do not dare to expect basic human rights and equality from the world where there is not a single place to sleep peacefully at…