Winners of the 2011 competition: Sarah Vanagt and Miranda Pennell
The 10th edition of the Courtisane Festival for film, video and media art closed on Sunday 3rd April 2011. At the award ceremony, the festival jury − Marina Kozul (HR, organiser/curator), Adam Pugh (UK, curator/writer/organiser) and Vincent Meessen (BE, visual artist/curator) − announced the Belgian and international winners. Directly afterwards the winning works were shown again. The prize for the best Belgian work was awarded to Brussels based filmmaker/visual artist Sarah Vanagt (°1976) for her latest video, The Corridor (2010). It’s the second time Sarah Vanagt is a Courtisane Festival laureate, in 2007 she won the Belgian competition with First Elections.
The jury statement on The Corridor:
We appreciated the film’s proposal to re-evaluate the relationship between humans and animals on a political level – and in particular its suggestion that the basis of this relationship may be inverted, so that the animal cares for the human.
In doing so, it questions notions of domesticity and humanity, bestiality and consciousness with understated rigour, revealing a dignity of purpose and of realisation.
The film is courageous, too, for choosing to reveal its own process, and for its subsequent restraint: in speaking quietly, it achieves a clarity and depth which might in other hands have been lost.
The international award was handed out to Miranda Pennell (°1963), a London based film and video artist with an extensive background in contemporary dance and visual anthropology, for Why Colonel Bunny Was Killed (2010). The work of Miranda Pennell isn’t new to the audience of the Courtisane Festival either. In 2008 her short film Drum Room was screened at the festival, and in 2007 You made Me Love You.
The jury statement on Why Colonel Bunny Was Killed:
The politics of difference and of inequality also hung above this work. Rephrasing the title of a photograph included in the film, ‘Why Colonel Bunny Was Killed’ transforms a caption into a statement, changing the status of the original as a means to interrogate the documentation of history.
Using original documents to highlight the symbolum of power and thereby to exhume the clues left by the would-be victors, the artist re-evaluates part of her own history to speak of a wider thruth; at once to challenge the authority of the archive of supposidly impermeable documents and to reacquaint us, as a western audience, with a degree of doubt about the legitimacy of our worldview.
In doing so, the artist also illuminates an entirely contemporary yet parallel situation, and taken together these elements speak not only of her personal resolve but of the circularity of history itself – and of its continuity bias for power and the powerful. “Facts, after all, are opinions.” (Gandhi)