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The winner of the Artes Mundi 5 prize was announced in an evening ceremony at National Museum Cardiff. From a shortlist of 7, Teresa Margolles has been chosen as the winner of the prize by a panel of international curators and directors. With a first prize of £40,000, Artes Mundi is the largest cash prize awarded for the arts in the UK and one of the most significant in the world. The exhibition, which opened in October has already had 30,000 visitors.

The Panel of judges, chaired by curator and broadcaster Tim Marlow, commended the work of all seven nominated artists, but were particularly struck by “the visceral power and urgency as well as the sophistication of her work in confronting an on-going human tragedy”.

Teresa Margolles’ work focuses on Northern Mexican social experience where drug-related crime has resulted in widespread violence and murder. Since graduating with a diploma in forensic medicine, Margolles has examined the economics of death and her sculptural interventions and performances often bring the physical reality and materiality of death to the fore, exemplified in her artistic intervention during the 2009 Venice Biennale in which the floor of the Mexican pavilion was mopped with water used to wash dead bodies from a morgue in Mexico.

In both works chosen for Artes Mundi, death is a major theme. In Plancha, water which has been used to cleanse dead bodies in a morgue drips from the ceiling onto hotplates. Each drop evaporates on impact with a noticeable hiss. The work seeks to narrate the transition in death from present to absent, the processes of decomposition and ultimately honours anonymous lives that have been lost. 32 años Levantamiento y traslado donde cayo el cuerpo asesinado del artista Luis Miguel Surofor which Margolles has chosen to transport and exhibit the tiles from the floor on which Luis Miguel Suro, a close friend and a promising young artist, was murdered in Guadalajara, Mexico. The displacement of these tiles brings the crime and violence associated with them inside the museum itself.

The international judging panel comprises Ute Meta Bauer. Dean of Fine Art, Royal College of Art, London, Adam Budak, International Curator for Contemporary Art, Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, Kathrin Becker, Head of Video Forum , nbk, Berlin, Karen MacKinnon, Curator, Glyn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, Tim Marlow, Exhibitions Director, White Cube, London, Sabine Schaschl. Director, Kunsthaus Baselland, Basel.

First Minister of Wales Carwyn Jones said:

“I would like to congratulate Teresa Margolles on winning Artes Mundi 5. The competition continues to go from strength to strength, and is truly international in its reach. It is a great privilege to be able to host the event in Wales and it plays a major role in our nation’s vibrant cultural scene.”

In association with Artes Mundi, the Derek Williams Trust Purchase Award of £30,000, to acquire a work by one of the shortlisted artists for Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales contemporary art collection, will go to Tania Bruguera forDisplacement, 1998-99.

Howard Evans, Executive Trustee from Derek Williams Trust said

“The Trust is delighted to support the Museum and its partnership with Artes Mundi by funding the Derek Williams Purchase Prize Award. Our long-term support of this initiative has been of real importance to the Museum and its development of an ambitious collection of international contemporary art. The Award ensures that the very best international art will be seen here in Wales in the years to come.”

2012 will be founding board member William Wilkin’s last year as chairman. William W
ilkins conceived Artes Mundi 12 years ago and retires after helping to facilitate many great achievements for both Artes Mundi and the contemporary visual arts in Wales. It was announced tonight that Mathew Prichard would be the next Chair of the Artes Mundi Board. His wide experience of the arts in Wales and elsewhere will be a great asset in the future development of the Prize. It will also mark Ben Borthwick’s final Artes Mundi as Artistic Director and CEO. Borthwick joined the organization after seven years at Tate Modern and having delivered a successful Artes Mundi 5, will be leaving to pursue international curatorial projects.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch is principal sponsor of the Artes Mundi 5 Exhibition and Prize which runs at National Museum Cardiff and Chapter until 13 January 2013. This year will also welcome the inclusion of an audience choice poll for the prize, allowing the public to vote for their favourite artist. The results of the poll will be revealed just before the close of the exhibition. 

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