Wales

Artes Mundi: Mexican artist Teresa Margolles wins prize

  • 30 November 2012
  • From the section Wales
Mexican artist Teresa Margolles
Image caption Mexican artist Teresa Margolles graduated with a diploma in forensic medicine and her work in Cardiff is influenced by the mortuary

A Mexican artist has won £40,000 after being named winner of this year's Artes Mundi prize for contemporary art.

Teresa Margolles was chosen from a shortlist of seven, and was presented by her prize by First Minister Carwyn Jones at Cardiff's National Museum.

Judges said they were struck by the "visceral power and urgency" of two works she submitted for the UK's largest largest arts cash prize.

The other six shortlisted artists will receive £4,000 each.

Image caption In Plancha, water used to cleanse dead bodies in the morgue drips from the ceiling onto hotplates

The other nominees were British artist Phil Collins, Miriam Backstrom from Sweden, Cuban artist Tania Bruguera, Lithuanian Darius Miksys, Apolonija Sustersic from Slovenia and Indian artist Sheela Gowda.

An exhibition of their works has attracted 30,000 visitors since October.

Favouring Margolles' work, the judges commended "the visceral power and urgency as well as the sophistication of her work in confronting an on-going human tragedy".

Her work focuses on northern Mexico, where drug-related crime and violence is rife.

In one piece, Plancha, water which has been used to cleanse dead bodies in a morgue drips from the ceiling onto hotplates.

Presenting her prize, First Minister Carwyn Jones said: "The competition continues to go from strength to strength, and is truly international in its reach.

"It is a great privilege to be able to host the event in Wales and it plays a major role in our nation's vibrant cultural scene."

Media captionJudge Karen MacKinnon explains more about the winner's work

The Derek Williams Trust Purchase Award of £30,000, to acquire a work by one of the shortlisted artists for the national museum, went to Tania Bruguera for Displacement, 1998-99.

Howard Evans, executive trustee for the Derek Williams Trust, said: "The award ensures that the very best international art will be seen here in Wales in the years to come."

One of the Artes Mundi judges Karen MacKinnon said it was difficult to select a winner this year.

"I know people always say that, but we had an incredible wide range of work in Artes Mundi this year more than ever," added Ms MacKinnon.

"The choice was unanimous that Teresa won, but it did take all day to get to that decision and there were long discussions about each artists' work.

"It's so important that we have contemporary art in Wales.

"Contemporary art creates a space from which to speak about these global issues, but also about things that happen here in Wales."

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