Press Releases

Recipient of £40,000 Artes Mundi Prize Announced

Eija-Liisa Ahtila is a visual artist and skilled film maker who produces photographs and video or film installations that fill and subvert gallery spaces. She combines the objectivity of a documentary maker with the imaginary visualisations of a psychologist. She describes her films as ‘human dramas’. Details of daily living, accounts of surreal activities and evidence of states of mind meld visually into works which are enhanced by the cinematic and televisual qualities of the media she uses.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila is based in Helsinki, Finland and has over the years researched and taken an interest in those who suffer from different forms of mental illness. Her fictional narratives are acted out by actors but are drawn from interviews and conversations, as well as from her own observation and memory. Often her works reflect the aftermath of a momentous event, an event that the viewer does not have full knowledge of. Much of her work reflects on the elementary emotions that underlie human relationships, those of love, jealousy, anger, vulnerability or sexuality. Sound, narrative voice-overs, music and layered time, all enhance the sense of psychological drama and draw the viewer into a complex world where reality and fiction become entwined.

Gerardo Mosquera, Chair of the Judging Panel said:

“The panel looked at each artist in depth and decided to award the 2nd Artes Mundi Prize to Eija-Liisa Ahtila. We were impressed by - the sophistication of her artistic language, how she has developed and extended our experience of video art together with artist film, and how her subject matter relates in a profound yet personal way to Artes Mundi’s theme of the human condition. “

In selecting one artist the judges are invited to consider the work in the exhibition and evidence of other examples of their work from the last five to eight years. The Prize is intended to go to the artist, who in the panel’s view, consistently makes work of note, quality and is thought provoking, within the criteria of the Prize.

The recipient of the second Artes Mundi Prize was announced to an international audience at the National Museum Cardiff, Friday 31 March. The prize of £40,000 is still one of the largest visual art prizes in the world. Each of the shortlisted artists presents work in the Artes Mundi exhibition at the National Museum Cardiff until 7 May.

The judges selected the recipient of the second Artes Mundi Prize 2006 after viewing the work of the eight shortlisted artists and considering it in the context of their recent work were Paolo Colombo – Curator of MAXXI Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI Secolo, Rome, Italy; Thelma Golden – Director and Chief Curator, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Cai Guo-Qiang – Artist who lives and works in New York, USA; Gerardo Mosquera (Chair of the Judging Panel) – Independent curator and art critic, based in Havana, Cuba; Jenni Spencer-Davies – Curator, Glynn Vivian Gallery, Swansea, Wales.

The shortlist of eight shortlisted was drawn from over 200 nominations from more than 60 countries by two international curators, Deepak Ananth, a Paris- based, Indian Art Historian and Curator of modern and contemporary art, and the Brazilian curator, critic and writer Ivo Mesquita – a leading figure in the Latin American visual art world.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila was congratulated by the Minister for Culture, the Welsh Language and Sport, Alun Pugh, AM, Welsh Assembly Government as the announcement was made at by a prestigious panel of judges.

Alun Pugh said:

”The Welsh Assembly Government is delighted to be involved with the Artes Mundi Prize once again this year. I would like to congratulate Eija-Liisa Ahtila on receiving this year's prize, which is a great achievement. This prestigious prize offers an opportunity for artists from across the world to engage in cultural debate and activity, present new and exciting visual contemporary art to new audiences and places Wales on the international, cultural map.“

The shortlisted artists were:

Eija-Liisa Ahtila (Finland);Thomas Demand (Germany); Mauricio Dias & Walter Riedweg (Brazil, Switzerland); Leandro Erlich (Argentina); Subodh Gupta (India); Sue Williams (Wales); Wu Chi-Tsung (Taiwan).

In 2004 the Artes Mundi Prize was awarded for the first time to Chinese artist, Xu Bing.

Artes Mundi is generously supported by:

Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff Council, Amgueddfa Cymru-National Museum Wales, Art & Business, Artsworld, BBC Wales, BT Cardiff Initiative, Cardiff School of Art & Design – UWIC, Cardiff University, City and County of Swansea Council, Colwinston Charitable Trust, Contemporary Art Society for Wales, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, FRAME Finnish Fund for Art Exchange, Francis Balsom Associates, Geldard LLP, King Sturge, KPMG LLP, M & A Solicitors, Park House Club, S & G Print Group, Sydney & London Properties, The Arts Council of Wales, Derek Williams Trust, The Ernest Cook Trust, The Millennium Stadium Charitable Trust, University of Glamorgan, University of Wales Swansea, Wales Arts International, Wales Tourist Board, Welsh Development Agency, Western Mail & Echo.

For further information please contact:
Julie Richards, PR & Communications Manager
Artes Mundi Wales International Visual Art Prize
Mobile: 07876 476695 Email:

Notes to Editors

EIJA-LIISA AHTILA – was born and works in Helsinki, Finland. Eija-Liisa Ahtila is a visual artist and skilled film maker who produces photographs and video or film installations that fill and subvert gallery spaces. She describes her films as ‘human dramas’, and combines the objectivity of a documentary maker with the imaginary visualisations of a psychologist. Details of daily living, accounts of surreal activities and evidence of states of mind are brought together and enhanced by the cinematic and televisual qualities of the media she uses.

THOMAS DEMAND - was born in Munich and now lives and works in Berlin. Thomas Demand is interested in how we absorb information and experiences through the media, or as he puts it - how ‘things just enter reality through photographs’. He is concerned with how the images we are offered in photographs, film and television present versions of reality and to what extend this imagery accompanies us in daily life.

MAURICIO DIAS & WALTER RIEDWEG - Mauricio Dias and Walter Riedweg embark on conversations with people, as individuals and as members of social groups. They strike up conversations in different parts of the world, capturing ex the Brazilian artist Mauricio Dias and Swiss artist Walter Riedweg have worked together since 1993. Using a video camera they work together to explore humanity in its different forms, both geographically and socially. Their subjects are active collaborators - who document, confess, enquire and answer.

LEANDRO ERLICH - was born and works in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Leandro Erlich makes art which challenges our idea of reality. He is interested in what we see, the spaces we occupy and the contexts we find ourselves in everyday. He constructs installations or complete physical worlds which the viewer enters. Using whatever building materials necessary, including mirrors and projections, he creates forms of reality. As his work engages almost all the senses and we are invited to participate, even interact within the spaces he creates. Thus we become actors on an elaborate theatre stage.

SUBODH GUPTA - was born in Khagaul, India and now lives and works in New Delhi. Subodh Gupta works from his own experience of the stark contrasts present in a country which combines rural simplicity and growing urban globalisation. He works with existing objects and a wide range of materials to create emblems and symbols of the society around him. In their simplicity they reflect the social, economic and cultural complexities of India today.

WU CHI-TSUNG - was born in Taipei, Taiwan where he still works and lives. Wu Chi-Tsung is fascinated by images, how they are made and how we see them. His works to date have mostly involved photography and video and the processes which are needed to create images. He experiments with and manipulates these processes, exploiting the alchemy inherent in chemical photography or changing the elements of timing which makes film the medium of movement.

SUE WILLIAMS - was born in Cornwall and now lives and works in Wales. Sue Williams admits to making self reflective art. She re-presents life through painting and drawing and is not shy of reflecting the dilemmas of being an empowered woman in society today. These canvases are the result of a recent concentrated period of activity and continue her characteristic approach to drawing which enables her ‘to extract ideas / images’ from her mind ‘at a rapid pace’.