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COAL Prize 2022 - Oceans - Open Call

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Created in 2010 the COAL Prize over the last 10 years has become a vehicle for the identification, promotion and dissemination of artists all over the world who dare to experiment and imagine, to transform territories, lifestyles, organizations and production methods. Together, the artists contribute to making changes visible, in building a new collective narrative, a new imaginary world, a common heritage, a positive, optimistic and necessary framework, to help everyone find the means and the motivation to implement necessary changes for a shared and livable Earth.

Call for entries for artists

The ocean represents our geographic and political horizon. As the United Nations has declared 2021-2030 the Decade of Ocean Sciences for Sustainable Development, the COAL Prize 2022 is inviting artists this year from around the world to explore the sunken universes and render them accessible to a wide audience. The Prize wants to help reveal what is at stake in the ocean depths, from its deepest abysses to its surface, to help people see and feel what remains unknown; and to imagine concrete new actions that revive resilience with the ocean.

The ocean is a boundless landscape: temperamental and in perpetual movement, it is a place where everything is in flux yet nothing really changes. Tangible yet almost abstract, overflowing its geographic definition it evokes a sensitive, deeply intimate experience. This widely shared experience is what Romain Rolland calls “oceanic feeling” an emotion that annihilates temporality and space, immersing us in a great whole.

As an individual one might feel like a tiny wave in a great ocean, especially in face of the climate crisis, the ecological complexity of which often transcends our perception and human scales of space and time. The transformation of the ocean as a result of climate change and biodiversity loss is one these imperceptible yet ongoing phenomena that poses a real challenge both for the transition to action and for raising awareness of intangible processes. Ocean warming, rising sea levels, sea acidification and deoxygenation, marine habitat degradation, plastic pollution, the proliferation of invasive species and overexploitation of fishery resources... the ocean is succumbing to multiple threats.

Yet the ocean is the heart of global phenomena that make our planet habitable. It regulates the water cycle, weather patterns, and stabilises the climate by absorbing more than half of humanity’s CO2 emissions. It is the largest ecosystem on the planet, so vast that it covers three quarters of the Earth’s surface, so deep that it contains 97% of all available water and represents 99% of the Earth’s habitable space by volume, and as the place where life first emerged it is home to unique flora and fauna.

It is the cradle of organic life, as well as the cradle of economic and commercial life, housing the majority of humans in its coastal areas and supporting three billion people who depend directly on marine biodiversity for their livelihood. The sharing of its resources and spaces has made the ocean a major diplomatic and geopolitical issue, which connects humans as much as it divides them: through international cooperation or naval battles, both as a reservoir of future solutions (energy, materials ...) and a place of ceaseless exploitation (extraction, nuclear tests …). The cornerstone of free trade and crisscrossed on all sides, the ocean is still so unknown as less than 5% of its expanse has been explored.

This mysterious body has long been a source of fascination and inspiration, making it a cultural heritage as much as natural one. Below the surface and beyond the horizon, the start of a journey or the end of an exile, the earth ends and the world begins: this is where mythologies take root, from floating worlds to sunken cities and fantastic sea creatures. This is where, before the flood or after the apocalypse, the world of yesterday and of tomorrow takes shape.

All applications are to be submitted before March 1st, 2022 at 11:59 pm via the COAL server. The Prize will be presented at a ceremony organized at the Museum of Hunting and Nature in the summer of 2021. The winner of the COAL Prize will be awarded 10,000 euros by the François Sommer Foundation and COAL. This sum is divided into a cash prize and a production aid for the artist residency offered by the Museum of Hunting and Nature at the Belval Domaine, property of the François Sommer Foundation.


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