Monday, November 14, 2011

Detained artist is finalist in int’l art award

Artist and political detainee Ericson Acosta is one of the three finalists in the
prestigious 2011 Imprisoned Artist Prize.

The other two finalists are musician Win Maw of Burma and filmmaker Dhondup Wanchen of Tibet.

The Imprisoned Artist Prize is one of the awards given by Freedom to Create, an international award-giving body launched in 2008 aimed to “celebrate the courage and creativity of artists and the positive influence of their work to promote social justice and inspire the human spirit”.

Acosta is the sole Filipino finalist in the Freedom to Create Awards.

The Imprisoned Artist Prize is presented to artists who are incarcerated “because of their courage and creativity in pursuing their art, and the role of their work in highlighting injustice”. One winner will be awarded USD$25,000, which will then be utilized in securing the artist’s release, and advocacies and campaigns for his or her freedom.

“In 2011, we have received over 2000 prize entries from more than 145 countries around the globe. A total prize fund of US$100,000 will be awarded to the winning artists and their nominated advocacy organisations to further the cause their artwork has highlighted,” the group’s website said.

Among the judges for the Prize are actress Daryl Hannah, novelist Salman Rushdie and danseur Mikhail Baryshnikov. Winners will be announced on the Freedom to Create Award Festival on November 19 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Acosta is an artist, journalist and cultural worker who was illegally arrested by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on February 13, 2011 in Barangay Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar province in the Eastern Visayan region. He faces trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives and is currently detained at the Calbayog City sub-provincial jail. Acosta's counsel filed a Petition for Review of his case before the Department of Justice (DOJ) last September 1.

Even in jail, Acosta continues to make his art and music heard despite and in spite of the most pressing of circumstances. A raw recording dubbed “Prison Sessions” featuring Acosta singing his original compositions in jail instantly enjoyed thousands of hits and followers online. He also maintains an online journal, Jailhouse Blog.

Acosta’s supporters call on DOJ Sec. Leila de Lima to immediately withdraw fabricated complaints against him. Among his supporters are officials of the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA), National Artists for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera and F. Sionil Jose, Philippine Center of International PEN (Poets & Playwrights, Essayists, Novelists), Concerned Artists of the Philippines, University of the Philippines National Writers’ Workshop fellows and panel, and artists from the USA, Canada, Europe and Asia who attended the International Conference on Progressive Culture last July. ###

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