I am heartened by recent actions at the Musée de l’Elysée where a clear line has been drawn between corporate sponsorship on the one hand, and the autonomy of artists and institutional integrity on the other. When Lacoste, sponsor of the Lacoste Elysée Prize, decided to withdraw the work of Larissa Sansour from the shortlist of eight artists for allegedly being off theme, the museum responded by cancelling the prize altogether (but not before misstepping and suggesting Sansour falsely claim she withdrew her nomination).  There is much speculation behind Lacoste’s motivation for excluding Sansour, revolving around an alleged phone conversation Sansour had with the museum’s director where the artist was told that, “Although the work is not directly anti-Israeli, it is too pro-Palestinian for Lacoste to support.” From my vantage point here in Toronto, in a city where so many major cultural happenings are controlled by major (banking) sponsors, it is good to know that institutions are willing to stake an ethical and political claim on money reaching too far.


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