Indian-origin British sculptor Anish Kapoor was named the winner of a prestigious $1 million Genesis prize by Israel on Monday for his commitment to Jewish values.
Kapoor, 62, spoke out against “abhorrent government policies” towards refugees as he was named the recipient of this year’s Genesis prize, dubbed Jewish Nobel.
The prize committee, headed by Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, acknowledged Kapoor as “one of the most influential and innovative artists of his generation”. Kapoor joins Itzhak Perlman, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and actor-director Michael Douglas as recipients.
Kapoor said he would use the award money to help alleviate the refugee crisis and try to expand the Jewish community’s engagement in a global effort to aid Syrian refugees.
“Jewish identity and history have witnessed recurring conditions of indifference, persecution and Holocaust. Repeatedly, we have had to repossess ourselves and re-identify our communities,” Kapoor said.
“As inheritors and carriers of Jewish values, it is unseemly, therefore, for us to ignore the plight of people who are persecuted, who have lost everything and had to flee as refugees in mortal danger,” he said.
“Outsider consciousness resides at the heart of Jewish identity and this is what motivates me, while accepting the honour of the Genesis Prize, to re-gift the proceeds to refugee causes.”
“I am an artist, not a politician, and I feel I must speak out against indifference for the suffering of others. There are over 60 million refugees in the world today – whatever the geography of displacement, the refugees crisis is right here on our doorstep,” he said.
Stan Polovets, chairman and co-founder of the Genesis Prize Foundation, said the profound impact of Kapoor’s work continues a long history of Jewish contribution to the arts, while his social activism reaffirms the commitment of the Jewish people to humanitarian causes.
“We particularly admire how, in an age frequently characterised by cynicism and indifference, Anish continually advocates for the world’s disadvantaged , challenging all of us to do more to help wherever and whenever we can,” Polovets said.
“Anish’s commitment to alleviate the plight of Syrian refugees will resonate with the Jewish community, especially young Jews, everywhere.”
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