Albanian artist Anri Sala has been announced as winner of the ABSOLUT ART AWARD 2011. The video artist deals with themes of history and memory, using inventive narrative structures to question the realities of modernity.

Full press release after the jump.

Since the early 1980’s, ABSOLUT VODKA has been a proud patron of the arts. Two years ago, ABSOLUT instituted the ABSOLUT ART AWARD to reinforce its long-term commitment to creativity. After giving the award to Keren Cytter in 2009 and Rirkrit Tiravanija in 2010, the third annual ABSOLUT ART AWARD goes to Albanian-born video artist Anri Sala. Chairman of the ABSOLUT ART AWARD jury, Christine Macel, Chief Curator at Centre Pompidou, will award Anri Sala with the €30,000 prize during a ceremony in Stockholm on September 16.

The jury’s citation reads: “Anri Sala’s work offers a unique way of looking at the world that combines reflection on history, memories, and consciousness of the instant, with an absolute awareness of presence and disappearance. He possesses a special talent for precise and subtle displays, and a unique ability to conceive installations and architectural proposals including sound, image, sculpture, film and live performances.”

Born in Albania in 1974, Anri Sala belongs to the last generation of artists that emerged under the country’s repressive regime. The fall of communism and exposure to Western cultures changed Sala’s philosophy of life almost overnight, and his early work very much reflects the juxtaposition of East-European history and the post-modern age. Over the past decade, Anri Sala has gained international attention for his video work and he is considered one of Europe’s most interesting cinematic storytellers. Slowly and with attention to detail, Sala explores the relationship between light, sound and music to replace language as the most important means of creating captivating narratives. He dissects the interface of documentary and fiction, and raises interesting questions about memory and modernity.

Anri Sala’s works have been included in numerous biennales including those in Berlin, Moscow, São Paolo, Sydney and Venice. He has had major solo exhibitions at the Kunsthalle Wien, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami among others. This autumn, new exhibitions are scheduled at the Serpentine Gallery in London as well as Centre Pompidou, Festival d’Automne and Club Marbeuf in Paris.

“Our collaboration with the arts started with ABSOLUT WARHOL. Since then we have collaborated with hundreds of cutting-edge artists; Keith Haring, Louise Bourgeois, David Shrigley and Damien Hirst to name a few. The ABSOLUT ART AWARD reinforces our long-term commitment to creativity. It is also our way of giving something back to the art world,” says Anna Malmhake, Vice President of Global Marketing at the Absolut Company. “We are proud to present Anri Sala with the ABSOLUT ART AWARD 2011. He is one of today’s most fascinating artists.”

Christine Macel, Chief Curator at Centre Pompidou, chairs the ABSOLUT ART AWARD jury. In addition, the 2011 jury consists of last year’s winner Rirkrit Tiravanija, Thomas Nordanstad, filmmaker and curator, Anna Malmhake, Vice President Global Marketing, The Absolut Company and Göran Lundqvist, Chairman of the board at Spritmuseum. Anri Sala will be part of next year’s jury.

The Absolut Company has the worldwide responsibility for the production and marketing of ABSOLUT VODKA and Level Vodka. ABSOLUT VODKA is the world’s fourth largest premium spirits brand, and it is sold in 126 markets. Every bottle of ABSOLUT VODKA is produced in Åhus in southern Sweden. The head office is located in Stockholm, Sweden. Since July, 2008, The Absolut Company is a part of Pernod Ricard, which holds one of the most prestigious brand portfolios in the sector.

Anri Sala – selected works
Le Clash (2010)
From the interior of a bricked-up building, a once influential rock and punk venue, comes the famous riff of a song. Slowly turning the handle of a barrel organ, two musicians stroll past the abandoned concert hall. When the distinct melodies conjoin, a sense of shifting reality occurs, highlighting two differing recollections of the punk song.

Why the Lion Roars (2009)
A composition of feature films that communicate through temperature. Each of the fifty-seven selected films represents specifically defined degrees; from minus 11°C to 45°C. A thermometer measures the temperature outside the projection space and simultaneously edits the film program, which changes in correspondence to the actual outdoor temperature.

Long Sorrow (2005)
The film shows the New-York jazz saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc, suspended from the facade of a building in a suburb of Berlin, named “Lange Jammer” by its inhabitants. The work is transcending limitations and stimulates the extension of imagination by showing the interplay between the internal and external, the familiar and the unknown.

Intervista (1998)
A film portraying Anri Sala’s mother based on a mute interview and two fragments of film. The interview was made thirty-five years ago when Sala’s mother was an activist in the Albanian Youth Communist Union. Sala found the film by accident in a box when moving out of an apartment. The key is in the silent movement of the mother’s lips. With help from a school for the deaf and mute, the mother’s voice is reinterpreted, and Sala’s mother is faced with the words she pronounced at the time.

The ABSOLUT ART AWARD was instituted in 2009 to celebrate the company’s 30 years of creative collaborations. The annual prize is given to an international artist who explores creativity through the integration of art forms. Christine Macel, Chief Curator at Centre Pompidou, has chaired the ABSOLUT ART AWARD jury since 2010, following Daniel Birnbaum, Director at Moderna Museet in Stockholm, who chaired the 2009 jury. The winners of the ABSOLUT ART AWARD are Keren Cytter (2009), Rirkrit Tiravanija (2010) and Anri Sala (2011).

For 30 years, ABSOLUT VODKA has collaborated with the creative world, and today the ABSOLUT ART COLLECTION comprises more than 800 works from artists such as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Jean-Michael Basquiat, Louise Bourgeois, Sylvie Fleury, David Shrigley and Linn Fernström. The collection is now owned by Spritmuseum. It will have its permanent home at the new museum venue, which opens in Stockholm in 2012.

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