Amar Kanwar wins Edward Munch Award for Contemporary Art

Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) has decided to give the Edvard Munch Award for Contemporary Art 2005 to the Indian artist and film maker Amar Kanwar. This is the first time that the award - the highest prize for international contemporary art in Norway - is given

04/07/2005 :: The award was presented to the artist Amar Kanwar by HM Queen Sonja of Norway on 27 April 2005.
The award is intended to support the development of a new work and to cover living expenses during the residency in Norway. It consists of a six-month residency at the Munch estate Ekely in Oslo and a grant of 55.000 Dollars.

The Edward Munch Award for Contemporary Art has been initiated and developed by the Office for Contemporary Art Norway (OCA) to enhance exchange in international contemporary art and highlight the importance and ongoing influence of the Norwegian artist Edvard Munch (1863–1944).

Amar Kanwar is an independent film maker, living in and working from New Delhi. Responding to conditions in contemporary India, his films primarily concerns issues relating to violence, politics, ecology and sexuality. While Kanwar’s film A Season Outside (1998) deals with a personal and philosophical passage through many zones of violence and non-violence, another film A Night Of Prophecy (2002), explores poetry in contemporary India through multiple poetic journeys that seek to unravel history, time and the future. His works cover topics as diverse as the history and politics of collecting water in the desert, the physical and mental spaces that men and women carve out for themselves within the family, and ecological interpretations of Buddhism. Other films have dealt with the opposition between globalization and tribal consciousness in the heart of rural India.

What makes Kanwar’s films so compelling is the acute immediacy of their images and the perplexing, almost beguiling contours of their narratives. Kanwar’s films do not explain, they show and tell. They create a space of continuous traversing between deep personal zones and the complicated outside universe. Kanwar himself calmly but steadfastly declines to elucidate his films with practical information. At the opening of one of his films he reassured the audience that extensive background material on the subjects addressed in his films was just a few URLs away.

The Edward Munch Award for Contemporary Art honours the exceptional attitude of Edvard Munch and his approach of translating what the artist sensed in society into his own artistic language. Edvard Munch’s interest in everyday life and the struggle of the individual is still relevant to contemporary art today. Similar to the work of Edvard Munch, Amar Kanwar deals with existential issues that have a universal bearing on the human condition. The Edward Munch Award for Contemporary Art is therefore given to Kanwar, a respected and renowned international artist whose work can be viewed as continuing this spirit of Edvard Munch. Munch debated human conditions that were both personal and prevalent among his contemporaries, themes such as terminal illness, poverty, social exclusion, profound grief, love, lust and fear. Through his work he provided a new set of tools for the representation of the self and individual travails – tools that are useful to both artists and viewers in their perception of art and life as such.

The nominee for the Edward Munch Award for Contemporary Art 2005 has been recommended by the International Board of OCA and its director Ute Meta Bauer. The members of the International Board are: Susanne Ghez, director and chief curator of the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Prof. Sarat Maharaj, research professor at the University of Lund, and Sune Nordgren, director of The National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design in Oslo.

The Edward Munch Award for Contemporary Art is a part of the OCA International Studio Programme. Curator Christiane Erharter.

Resident artists at the ISP Oslo this spring are: Regina Möller, Berlin;  Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, Vilnius; Dana Samuel, Toronto; Ulrike Solbrig, Berlin; Anna Ceeh, St.Petersburg and Franz Pomassl, Vienna.

In addition to the five studios and two apartments in Oslo, studios/residencies in Berlin, New York, Istanbul and Beijing are offered for Norwegian artists and curators.

Wergelandsveien 17, 0167 Oslo, Phone+47 22933760, Fax: +47 22933761,

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Still from: The Torn First Pages - Part One, Somwhere in May, Amar Kanwar 2005

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