Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Another Catalan artist, Colita, rejects the Spanish Government's National Culture Prize

Photographer Colita has rejected the National Photography Prize awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Culture because of "the pitiful, shameful and painful" situation of the cultural sector in Spain. Colita, who was one of the main photographers portraying Barcelona's bohemian life of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, did so on Friday after another Catalan artist, the world-famous musician Jordi Savall, did the same last week for similar reasons

In both cases, the two artists highlighted that their reasons behind the rejection were only linked to the Spanish Government's cultural policies and had nothing to do with Catalonia's self-determination process and the Spanish Government's blocking attitude. Colita ironically stated that she "does not know where [the Spanish Ministry of Culture] is located, neither if it exists". 

Savall, who in 2012 received the Leonie Sonning Music Foundation Prize (considered to be the 'Nobel Prize of Music') had been awarded the National Music Prize and rejected it because of the Spanish Government's "dramatic lack of interest and the great incompetence in defending and promoting the arts and its creators". 

After Colita's announcement, on the same day, the Spanish Deputy Prime Minister, Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, responded asking for "respect" towards the National Prizes awarded by the Ministry of Culture. Sáenz de Santamaría pointed out that these prizes are decided by "an independent jury" and that are "not awarded by a party or a government cabinet". She recognized that "everybody has the right to accept or reject them", but she added that they "represent Spain's recognition to its own culture in different areas".

After the Spanish Government announced on Thursday afternoon that Isabel Steva Hernández, known as Colita, had been awarded the National Photography Prize, the Catalan photographer announced on Friday morning she was rejecting it, including the 30,000 euros that came with the prize. Colita sent a letter to the Spanish Minister of Culture, José Ignacio Wert. 
In a sarcastic tone, the veteran photographer criticised the ministry's contribution to Spain's cultural life. Furthermore, she considered that the existence of such a ministry is "a pipe-dream" and thatshe "does not know where [the Spanish Ministry of Culture] is located, neither if it exists". Colita also added that the current situation of the cultural sector in Spain is "pitiful, shameful and painful".

"We will have to wait with hope for other times, other people, other governments, who will bring back our pride and their honour", she stated. Finally, Colita told the Spanish Minister that another reason she had for rejecting the prize was that she did not want to be in a picture with him. However, she thanked the members of the jury for thinking that she deserves "the most important prize awarded in this country".


The internationally- recognized Early Music expert, Catalan Jordi Savall, rejected on Thursday Spain’s National Music Prize, which is awarded by the Spanish Government each year. Savall has not accepted the Prize, which was announced on Wednesday and comes with €30,000, because he wants to show his rejection of the Spanish Government’s cultural policies, particularly that towards musicians. Savall is probably the world’s top interpreter of viola da gamba and the main expert in Early and Renaissance music. In 2012 he received the Leonie Sonning Music Foundation Prize, considered to be the ‘Nobel Prize of Music’. Besides, Savall has been publicly advocating for Catalonia’s right to self-determination in the last few months. Read more...

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