The shortlist of candidates for the 2019 BelgianArtPrize was recently announced, and it exhibits a startling lack of gender and ethnic diversity. Some members of the Belgian art community have put together a petition to protest this, writing that “the flagrant exclusivity of this year’s prize candidates and its denial of not only social but also aesthetic reality (gender being just one of its glaring discriminatory categories) does not represent how we see ourselves, or our community, and raises consequential questions on how privilege might be distributed within it.” You can read an excerpt from the petition letter below, and then visit this website to sign it yourself.
We are members of the Belgian contemporary art community, and by signing this letter we publicly distance ourselves from the values guiding this year’s shortlist of candidates for the BelgianArtPrize. As active practitioners, we know that a thriving and complex artistic landscape is only possible when artists of different genders, sexualities, ethnic backgrounds, social classes, generations and so forth, are able to access and participate in it, and enrich it with their sensibilities and world views. In contrast to the apathy demonstrated in the selection of 2019 candidates, we wish to affirm to each other that we stand for an inclusive artistic community that finds its strength in diversity.