The winner of the inaugural Nomura Art Award—and the recipient of $1 million—is Colombian artist Doris Salcedo.
Salcedo, who was born in 1958 in Bogotá, is known for her sculptures and installations honoring those who are marginalized or forgotten, including victims of violence or disempowered groups and individuals. The Nomura Art Award will help Salcedo continue her series “Acts of Mourning” (1999–present), which comprises large-scale works made in collaboration with thousands of people and are meant to help communities cope with pain caused by violent conflict in Colombia. She now hopes to create memorials in remote regions of Colombia that have suffered disproportionately from the civil war.
In a statement, Salcedo said:
Producing projects capable of honoring the experience of victims of violence requires a large investment in time and organization, sometimes with many collaborators. Because of this Award, I am now able to move ahead much more quickly than I had expected with a project that is important to me, and that I hope will touch many people.
The million-dollar prize is the largest cash prize in contemporary visual art, and is meant to allow an artist of major cultural significance to work on an ambitious project they didn’t previously have the resources to realize. Artists cannot apply for the award, which is instead awarded by a panel of international judges, including the directors of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Late critic and curator Okwui Enwezor also served on the jury, which completed deliberations before his death in March.
In May, two Nomura Emerging Artist Awards of $100,000 each were given to Chinese artist Cheng Ran and U.S. artist Cameron Rowland. Rowland was also the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant this year.
Nomura Holdings, Inc. is a large investment bank based in Tokyo, which says it has a long history of engaging with the arts dating back to its founding. The prize amount surpasses that of other prestigious awards, like the MacArthur “genius” grant, which offers winners $625,000 over five years, and the Kyoto Prize, which awards 100 million Yen ($898,000).