Emily Jacir Wins 2008 Hugo Boss Prize

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Emily Jacir winning the Hugo Boss Prize on Nov. 13, 2008

Palestinian-American artist Emily Jacir has won the biennial Hugo Boss Prize. Jacir, 37, is the seventh artist to win the prestigious award, which was established in 1996 by Hugo Boss and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to recognize significant achievement in contemporary art. In a statement, the jurors, comprising an international panel of museum directors and curators, said of their selection, “Emily Jacir combines the roles of archivist, activist, and poet to create poignant and memorable works of art that are at once intensely personal and deeply political. It is the refined sophistication of Jacir's art and the relevance of her concerns—both global and local—in a time of war, transnationalism, and mass migration that led us to award her the 2008 Hugo Boss Prize.”

Carrying an award of $100,000, the prize has no restrictions in terms of age, gender, race, nationality, or media, and the nominations may be young, emerging artists as well as established individuals whose public recognition may be long overdue. In addition to Jacir, the finalists included Swiss artists Christoph Büchel and Roman Signer, Americans Patty Chang and Sam Durant, and Danish artist Joachim Koester.

Jacir's work—spanning a diverse range of mediums including photography, video, performance, and installation-based work—addresses repressed historical narratives, resistance, political land divisions, movement (both forced and voluntary) and the logic of the archive. Many of her early projects involve working directly with the Palestinian community and the larger Arab community both locally and internationally through collaboration and social interventions.

An exhibition of Jacir’s work will be on view at the Guggenheim Museum during the spring of 2009.


Emily Jacir winning the Hugo Boss Prize on Nov. 13, 2008. Photo: Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for Hugo Boss