Prince Claus Award 2006 for Iranian graphic designer Reza Abedini

On Wednesday 13 December 2006 Reza Abedini (1967, Iran) will be presented with this year’s Principal Prince Claus Award of €100,000 at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ in Amsterdam.
Reza Abedini is a graphic designer and a professor of graphic design and visual culture at Tehran University. He emphasises the relationship between visual tradition and modern form, encourages research in the long and rich history of Persian art and calligraphy, and nurtures talent in the younger generations. Reza Abedini is granted the Principal Prince Claus Award in recognition of his personal creativity in producing superb graphic design and his individual skill in adapting the knowledge and achievements of Iran’s artistic heritage, making it new and compelling today. The award values and draws attention to the diversity of Iranian culture – both historic and contemporary. It recognises the impact of graphic design as a powerful global medium of communication, and highlights the tradition and role of graphic design both in the laureate’s own country and across the world.


The other ten Prince Claus Awards 2006 of €25,000

Laureates working in the area of the visual arts
Lida Abdul (1973, Afghanistan) is a visual artist who uses diverse media including video, film, photography, installation and live performance to explore and visualise issues of ‘home’ and identity. She fights against the senseless destruction of cultural heritage in her country and highlights women’s role in society. The outstanding artistic quality of her work is combined with powerful political and social statements, and is recognised both within Afghanistan and internationally. Lida Abdul regularly exhibits and teaches in Kabul.

Christine Tohme (Lebanon) is a cultural organiser, art activist and curator. In 1994 she founded Ashkal Alwan, the Lebanese Association for the Plastic Arts, a non-profit organisation that initiates and supports contemporary artistic practice. Through her work, she provides a platform for free thought and critical discourse in Lebanon, promotes and develops critical reflection and cultural theory, and fosters regional and international cultural exchange. This award honours Christine Tohme’s struggle and achievements in stimulating local multi-disciplinary art production and art criticism.

Laureates working in the area of writing and publishing
Erna Brodber (1940, Jamaica) is a writer, cultural historian and social activist who has carried out pioneering research on oral history in Jamaica and is an important role model in her society. Using fiction as a medium, she has written groundbreaking books in terms of individual and community identity formation, foregrounding the role of language in development. Erna Brodber is honoured for her innovative use of the Creole language and for her outstanding contribution to the promotion and establishment of local languages and cultures. This is the first Prince Claus Award in Jamaica.

Henry Chakava (1946, Kenya) is an innovative, courageous and enterprising publisher. He has published work by important writers and new voices in African literature, encouraged publication in local languages, and produced locally oriented textbooks. The Prince Claus Award honours Henry Chakava for his lifetime’s work in developing African publishing, for nurturing and promoting writers in a difficult context, and for defying dictatorship in his own country.

Frankétienne, (1936, Haiti) is a poet, writer, dramaturge and teacher. An important figure in the cultural history of Haiti, he is the author of the first novel in Haitian Creole and has written more than 30 titles. This award honours Frankétienne for his lifetime’s achievements in the arts in a complex political context, for his poetic use of language, his radical stance on local languages, and his important contribution to regional literature and culture. This is the first Prince Claus Award in Haiti.

Laureate working in the area of theatre
Madeeha Gauhar, (1956, Pakistan) is an outstanding actor, theatre director and women’s rights activist. In 1983 she set up the Ajoka Theatre, which produces challenging, socially relevant works and performs in the streets and community spaces. Her aim is to promote a secular, humane, just and egalitarian society. She nurtures a new generation of actors and organises collaborative cross-border performances in India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Madeeha Gauhar is honoured for her artistic and social contributions to public theatre in South Asia.

Laureates working in the area of cultural education and debate
Michael Mel (1959, Papua New Guinea) is a performance artist, thinker, communicator, curator and teacher. He lectures in Expressive Arts at Goroka University and his performance/installation work is innovative and culturally significant. Mel plays a key role in the cultural development of Papua New Guinea’s highland community and is one of the few bridges between Papua New Guinea and the world, enabling better understanding of the complex cultural concepts and practices of the island. This is the first Prince Claus Award in Papua New Guinea.

Committee for Relevant Art (CORA) (since 1991, Nigeria) is an innovative, non-profit, activist platform for public experience, engagement and debate on cultural issues in Nigeria. Working through ‘all legitimate means’ including popular book fairs, film festivals, a ‘stampede’ and a newsletter, CORA encourages and creates an environment for the flourishing of contemporary culture. This award celebrates CORA’s energetic activities and highlights the contributions of committed citizens in stimulating the arts.

Al Kamandjâti Association (since 2002, Palestine) is a non-profit organisation that gives music lessons to Palestinian children, particularly those living in refugee camps and marginalised villages in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon. It enables the children to explore their cultural heritage, to open themselves to the outside world and gives them an opportunity to discover their creative potential rather than waste their energy on violence. The award honours Al Kamanjâti for creating spaces of hope for Palestinian children.

Laureate working in the area of cultural heritage and education
The National Museum of Mali in Bamako (reopened in 1981, Mali) is a vibrant and outstanding cultural institution. The Museum plays a major role in the prevention of cultural looting and trafficking in the region, it educates local communities, and preserves and interprets local aesthetic heritage. Alongside its well-designed displays of the historical collection of over 7,000 objects in a building inspired by local Bambara architectural forms, the Museum stimulates contemporary art production and exhibitions. This award celebrates the work of the National Museum of Mali, highlights the role of museums in culture and development, and emphasises the importance of preventing cultural looting and trafficking.

  The Awards Committee
Niek Biegman, Chairman, former senior NATO Civilian Representative in Skopje, Macedonia, photographer, Dalmacija, Croatia
Manthia Diawara, Professor of Comparative Literature, editor-in-chief of Black Renaissance, author, filmmaker, Bamako, Mali/Accra, Ghana/ New York, United States
Amitav Ghosh, Author, Calcutta, India/New York, United States
Pablo Ortiz Monasterio, Photographer, Editor, Mexico City, Mexico
Mick Pearce, Architect, Harare, Zimbabwe/ Melbourne, Australia
Virginia Pérez-Ratton, Artist, Curator, Director of TEOR/éTica, San José, Costa Rica
Selma Al-Radi, Archeologist, American Institute for Yemeni Studies, Baghdad, Iraq/Sana’a, Yemen

Fariba de Bruin-Derakhshani is secretary to the Awards Committee

Marking the 10-year anniversary of the Prince Claus Fund, the 2006 Prince Claus Awards will be dedicated to a revisiting and celebration of all the themes and sub-themes of previous years.
  The Prince Claus Fund maintains a broadly based view of culture that accommodates all kinds of artistic and intellectual disciplines, the transmission of culture, and education and media. In addition, the Fund is interested in the cultural and intercultural dimensions of fields that are not obviously a part of ‘culture’ in the conventional sense. Examples include technology, science and sport. These fields may also entail vocabularies and vernaculars – such as salsa, rap, combat sports and marathon running – that travel across the world and develop into universal languages that span different cultures. Interculturality is prominent on the Fund’s agenda.

The Fund is interested in all the concepts and activities that are relevant to the extensive field of culture and development. Each year the Fund chooses a theme in order to introduce an area of concern. To mark the 10-year anniversary of the Prince Claus Fund, the 2006 Prince Claus Awards will celebrate all the themes and sub-themes of previous years.

In its policy, the Prince Claus Fund is guided by four main themes: Zones of Silence (the locating and opening of areas of cultural silence); Creating Spaces of Freedom (the creation of cultural sanctuaries); Beauty in Context (the analysis of beauty in different cultural environments); and Living Together (the art of co-existence). Over the years, the Fund has also worked with a series of sub-themes, such as The Survival and Innovation of Crafts (as part of Beauty in Context), The Positive Results of Asylum and Migration (as part of Living Together) and Humour and Satire (as part of Creating Spaces of Freedom)
Tehran University