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Indonesian artist FX Harsono was named the winner of the inaugural Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art receiving a grant of US$5,000, a trophy and a winner’s certificate.
The Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art honours an artist or curator from the Southeast Asian region who is actively committed to the ideals of freedom of art, expression, and liberty, and through their work, continually seek to express these ideals. The Award is jointly presented by Art Stage Singapore and U.S. Embassy Singapore and will be awarded annually to a practising artist or curator.
According to the Jury:
FX Harsono has played a crucial role in Indonesia’s contemporary art scene for forty years. His critical installation and performance work spans pro-democracy dissent to explorations of the experiences of ethnic minorities. His works are often informed by the repression and feelings of ‘otherness’ he has encountered. Mr Harsono’s selection as the inaugural Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art winner from the seven nominees is based on his unstinting activism in the contemporary art scene, through which he has continually examined the social realities of his home country.
Seven artists were nominated for the 2015 Joseph Balestier Award for the Freedom of Art. In addition to FX Harsono (Indonesia), the nominees include Aye Ko (Myanmar), Lee Wen (Singapore), Manit Sriwanichpoom (Thailand), Nadiah Bamadhaj (Malaysia), Pablo Baen Santos (Philippines) and Svay Sareth (Cambodia).