A Palestinian artist has accused Lacoste of censorship for removing her political-themed artwork from a short list of nominees for an award sponsored by the French luxury label.
In October, Lacoste, known for its preppy polo shirts with the green alligator symbol, had initially offered Larissa Sansour a nomination for the Lacoste Prize to be awarded by the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, Switzerland. But last week, the museum contacted Sansour to tell her that she'd been dropped as a contender from the field of international artists, the Independent reports. (The winner will receive 25,000 euros, which translates to about $33,000 in U.S. dollars.)
"I am very shocked and saddened by this development," she said. "As a politically involved artist I am no stranger to opposition, but never before have I been censored by the very same people who nominated me in the first place. Lacoste’s (alleged) prejudice and censorship puts a major dent in the idea of corporate involvement in the arts. It is deeply worrying.”
Sansour, whose pieces explore problems facing Palestinians, had contributed three photos for the prize dubbed "Nation Estate" and featuring a "science fiction representation of a Palestination state housed in a skycraper," according to the paper. In an email, a museum spokesperson apologized to Sansour, saying the museum had defended her art, but then requested her approval to release this message to members of the awards jury and press, if need be: "Larissa Sansour decided to pursue other opportunities."
Sansour said the museum told her in a phone conversation that Lacoste judged her work "too pro-Palestinian." But in a joint statement on Wednesday, the museum and Lacoste explained that her work did not fit the award's theme of "Joie De Vivre."
“Larissa Sansour’s photographic project Nation Estate was removed from the Lacoste Elysée Prize only because it didn’t correspond to the theme of the 2011 edition, i.e. joie de vivre. We regret the political interpretation of our decision," read the statement.