The Chicago-based American artist Theaster Gates, winner of this year’s winner of the Artes Mundi 6 award, which was announced in Cardiff on Friday, has made an unexpected decision.
Gates took home the £40,000 prize which is the largest award for the arts in Great Britain. The other nine nominees from 70 countries were shortlisted from more 900 entries.
Gates in his acceptance speech said he was “grateful” to Artes Mundi for the global platform to “expand the context” of his work. Artes Mundi director Karen Mackinnon said Gates stood out for “his ability to be not just an artist but an urbanist, a facilitator and a curator”.
Gates’ winning installation, entitled ‘A Complicated Relationship between Heaven and Earth, or When We Believe’ (2014), is comprised of a large array of symbolic objects from all over the world, and seeks to question the dominance of Christian ideology in the western world.
Chicago-based Gates was chosen as sole winner over nine illustrious nominees, including Sanja Iveković, Omer Fast, Sharon Lockhart, Renzo Martens, Renata Lucas, Carlos Bunga, Karen Mirza & Brad Butler, and Ragnar Kjartansson.
Now, in an unexpected twist of generosity and respect for his fellow nominees, Gates has announced that will share the largest UK cash prize for a winning artist, with all of them.
Gates was originally trained as an urban planner, and rose to prominence in the last decade thanks to his large-scale urban renewal projects in depressed areas of the US. The artist finances these urban interventions with the sale of his artworks in commercial galleries, such as White Cube or Kavi Gupta.
Artist Mundi 6 is the UK’s leading international contemporary art prize and an important arbiter of cultural exchange between the UK and the international community, which takes place bi-annually. Bringing together a major exhibition of the world’s most celebrated contemporary artists, Artes Mundi 6 promises to be the foremost opportunity to see ground-breaking, international contemporary art in the UK.