Statement of Anish Kapoor on Accepting the Genesis Prize

Together with the support of the Genesis Prize, we have set ourselves a mission to work for refugee causes.

Photo courtesy Genesis Prize Foundation

I am honoured to be the recipient of the Genesis Prize 2017. The Genesis Prize has ambitions that are generous, open hearted and humane. It seeks to broaden the context of Jewish identity and calls upon Jews and non-Jews to work together to influence some of the big issues of our times.

Jewish identity and history have witnessed recurring conditions of indifference, persecution and Holocaust. Repeatedly, we have had to repossess ourselves and reidentify our communities. 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. 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. I appeal to people of good conscience in the global Jewish community, and those outside it, who share this sentiment and cannot remain passive and silent, to join the call of the Genesis Prize, help save lives and give refugees an opportunity to return to normal life.

To lose one’s home, one’s land, one’s sense of belonging, is bewildering. All that is left is one’s body. I ask: how long before – for so many – even that is lost?

Together with the support of the Genesis Prize, we have set ourselves a mission to work for refugee causes. We have a duty to persuade our fellow citizens all over the world that those who are vulnerable are in need of our compassion and our empathy. Their wellbeing is our wellbeing; their desperation is ours.

This is our message.

I believe that in the current political climate the world over, it is more important than ever that we continue to stand against the abhorrent government policies that are an offence against our ethics and the very tenets of what it means to be human. As Jews, we must question whether this reality is closer to home than we might like, and we must condemn the exclusionist policies and politics of the government that claims to represent us. With Genesis, I will seek to mitigate the effects of these policies in whatever way I can.

Anish Kapoor