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Musée de l’Elysée relaunches major photography award following 2011 Lacoste controversy

Watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier has come forward as the major sponsor of the Musée de l'Elysée photography prize, two years after the Swiss institution was forced to cancel the contest when its former sponsor, Lacoste, interfered in the selection process

The Musée de l’Elysée in Switzerland has entered into a partnership with watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier to relaunch its Prix Elysée contest.

The competition is open to photographers and artists of all nationalities. “There is no imposed theme or preference for any particular photographic genre or technique,” say the organisers, who hope the prize will help support photographers in the evolution of their careers. “We think […] it’s as important as preserving their art for future generations,” says the Musée.

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“Photographers must be recommended by a reputed professional in the fields of photography, cinema, fashion, journalism, publishing or contemporary art,” the institution adds. “The Musée de l’Elysée will select eight nominees based upon their entry portfolios. Each will receive a contribution of CHF 5000 (£3400) towards the initial presentation of their project in a dedicated edition of the Prix Elysée magazine. This magazine will accompany the nominees’ complete portfolios in the final consideration before the jury of experts. The winner will receive CHF 80,000 (£54,000), to be divided between the completion of the proposed project and the publication of the accompanying book within one year. A curator from the Musée de l’Elysée will advise the winner throughout this process.” Applications are open from 03 February to 25 April.

Lacoste disqualification

The new Prix Elysée is similar to the Lacoste Elysée Prize, which was scrapped in December 2011 when the fashion brand requested that one of the prize’s eight nominees, Larissa Sansour, be excluded. Sansour had been shortlisted for the 2011 edition of the Lacoste Elysée Prize – until she was asked to leave the shortlist as her work was deemed too political. While the Musée de l’Elysée and Lacoste first claimed that Sansour’s work had been disqualified because both organisations “felt the work at hand did not belong in the theme of ‘joie de vivre’ [happiness]”, the Musée de l’Elysée was forced to admit that Lacoste had interfered in the selection process. In a statement released two hours after Lacoste had removed its financial support, the Swiss institution said: “The Musée de l’Elysée has decided to suspend the organisation of the Lacoste Elysée Prize 2011. The Musée de l’Elysée has based its decision on the private partner’s wish to exclude Larissa Sansour, one of the prize nominees.” Read BJP’s full report, published in December 2011.

In its new configuration, the Prix Elysée will be judged by a panel of seven jurors, including a representative of the Musée de l’Elysée and another designed by Parmigiani Fleurier.

To enter this year’s edition of the Prix Elysée, visit www.prixelysee.ch