Tarik Kiswanson, Celebrated Artist with a Focus on Mutable Identities and His Palestinian Family’s History, Wins France’s Top Art Prize
Tarik Kiswanson, an artist whose works in many mediums have explored how people navigate between many identities, has won the Prix Marcel Duchamp, France’s most prestigious art prize. Through the award, he will take home 35,000 euros, or just under $37,000.
The prize is awarded at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, where an exhibition that features work by him and the other finalists—Bertille Bak, Bouchra Khalili, and Massinissa Selmani—is currently on view. Typically, the Prix Marcel Duchamp is given out in a ceremony held at that institution, but the proceedings last night did not go as planned.
The ceremony had to be relocated after staff at the Centre Pompidou voted to strike on Monday, causing the museum to relocate the event to the Artcurial auction house. Staff at the museum said they were displeased with their labor conditions and that negotiations with management had reached a standstill. Le Monde reported that some 1,000 employees are involved in the strike, which, according to a union statement, is meant to seek “guarantees on the sustainability of their positions and their missions.”
The museum, which has plans to shutter for five years starting in 2025 as renovations are conducted, also closed to the public yesterday. In a statement made on social media, the Centre Pompidou only referred to the strike as a “social movement.”
Kiswanson’s sculptures, drawings, poetry, and more has drawn praise in Europe, where he this year alone at solo shows at the Bonniers Kunsthalle in Stockholm and the Salzburger Kunstverein in Austria, in addition to one held at the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City.
Much of his work is rooted in his own personal history as an artist who has crossed borders. Born in Halmstad, Sweden, to Palestinian parents, and now based between Paris and Amman, Jordan, he has frequently considered his own family lineage and the ways that immigrants shift as they move about the world.
Earlier this year, he told Art in America that he was interested in “moving between these realms of cultures, identities, languages and the enormous anxiety I feel when I don’t fit into society’s black and white.”
Xavier Rey, director of the Centre Pompidou, said in a statement, “With Tarik Kiswanson we are honouring a multidisciplinary approach that is extremely accomplished both in its formal dimension and in its relationship with history. Drawing on the energetic relationships between different elements, his works aim, with great sensitivity, for a universal message.”