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15.10.2008 Press Release

Rockefeller Foundation Announces Inaugural Bellagio Center Creative Arts Fellows | 15 October 2008

By Rockefeller Foundation

Rockefeller Foundation Announces Inaugural Bellagio Center Creative Arts Fellows

Mona Hatoum, Kofi Setordji, and Shahzia Sikander to

Live and Work at Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center

London, England, October 15, 2008 – The Rockefeller Foundation tonight announced the inaugural recipients of its Bellagio Creative Arts Fellowships, Mona Hatoum, Kofi Setordji, and Shahzia Sikander. These fellowships are highly selective residencies that continue the Foundation's storied tradition supporting cultural innovation and creative expression.

Ms. Hatoum, Mr. Setordji, and Ms. Sikander were nominated and chosen by an advisory panel of influential curators, artists, and art scholars. They will be provided with three month residencies in a private apartment with studio space on the grounds of the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center, adjacent to Northern Italy's Lake Como. They were honored during a ceremony at London's Langham Hotel. Subsequent fellows will be designated annually.

“The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to build on an extraordinary record promoting the humanities,” said Judith Rodin, the Foundation's President. “These fellowships serve a dual mission: they help groundbreaking artists reach their full potential and they enable the arts to inspire our shared creativity and imagination. There is a deep and timeless connection between cultural advances and social progress. This new program will help strengthen both."

The Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center regularly hosts policymakers, professionals, and thought-leaders, from around the world, for residencies, conferences, and candid, robust exchanges of ideas. While affording a unique opportunity to three exceptional artists, the Bellagio Arts Fellowships will also enrich the experience of other Bellagio conferees and residents, enhancing the thinking behind and impact of the center's work. Former Bellagio residents have included writers Maya Angelou, Michael Ondaatje, and composer Eve Beglarian. Participants in the center's conference program have included Nobel Laureates Henry Kissinger, Rajendra Pachauri, Shimon Peres, and Joseph Stiglitz.

“To be offered a period of calm and distance away from other obligations allowed me to focus on the development of my writing,” Catherine de Zegher, Bellagio Creative Arts Advisory Panel member and former resident, said. “I relished the opportunity that the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Center presented to meet other resident scholars, who have encouraged me and continue to inspire my work through conversation and critical thinking.”

The Rockefeller Foundation was established by John D. Rockefeller, Sr., in 1913. With assets of more than $4 billion, the Foundation works around the world to ensure that globalization's benefits and opportunities are spread more fully in more communities. Since 2005, the Rockefeller Foundation has launched major initiatives to strengthen global health systems, bolster resilience to climate change in poor communities around the world, mobilize an agricultural revolution in Africa, rebuild New Orleans in the wake of Katrina, strengthen the economic security of working families, and shape smarter, more sustainable transportation policies in the United States.

The 2008 Bellagio Creative Arts Fellows


Born in Beirut to a Palestinian family, Mona Hatoum has lived and worked in London since 1975. She originally went to England just to visit, but remained after the outbreak of the civil war in Lebanon prevented her from returning.

After studying at the Byam Shaw and the Slade School of Art in London, Hatoum became widely known in the mid-1980s for a series of performance and video works that focused on the human body. Since the early 1990s, her work has moved increasingly toward large-scale installations that aim to engage the viewer in conflicting emotions of desire and revulsion, fear and fascination. She often transforms familiar objects, such as chairs, beds, cots, kitchen utensils, and even the human body itself, into strange, threatening, and sometimes dangerous things. In "Corps étranger" (1994), for instance, a video installation displays an endoscopic journey through the foreign interior terrain of her own body.

Hatoum has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including the Turner Prize (1995), Venice Biennale (1995 and 2005), Documenta XI (2002), Biennale of Sydney (2006), and Auckland Triennial (2007). Her solo exhibitions have been featured at Centre Pompidou, Paris (1994), Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (1997), the New Museum of Contemporary Art and MoMA, New York (1998), the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh (1998), Castello di Rivoli, Turin (1999), Tate Britain, London (2000), Hamburger Kunsthalle, Kunstmuseum Bonn, and Magasin 3, Stockholm (2004), and Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2005). The XIII Biennale Donna, in the Palazzo Massari in Ferrara (2008), was entirely devoted to a Mona Hatoum solo exhibition entitled "Undercurrents."

The 2004 winner of the prestigious Sonning Prize, given biennially by the University of Copenhagen, Hatoum is also the 2004 winner of the Roswitha Haftmann prize from Zurich. From 2003 to 2004, she served as Artist-in-Residence on the DAAD program (Berliner Künstlerprogramm, Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst) and now divides her time between Berlin and London.


Though his graphic art, sculpture, and installations have been exhibited all over the world since as early as 1982, Kofi Setordji lives, works, and organizes artistic resources in his hometown of Accra, Ghana. He began working as a graphic artist after high school. Since then, he has produced works in the graphic and fine arts, from sculpture and photography to print making and theater set design. In 1984 he studied with the great Ghanaian sculptor Saka Acquaye, who taught him to cast and mold bronze and clay.

Today, Setordji prefers to work with wood, clay, stone, metal, and found objects. Major exhibitions of Setordji's work have been held in Accra, Ghana; Abidjan, the Ivory Coast; Dakar, Senegal; Lille, France; Berlin and Munich in Germany; and Geneva, Switzerland. Perhaps his best-known work is "Genocide", a multi- dimensional installation that took four years to assemble. It dramatically expresses protest against the civil wars that have torn Africa apart from Liberia to Rwanda.

The Ghanaian government has awarded Setordji various commissions for the creation of wall reliefs, including for the museum belonging to the mausoleum of Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah. Together with the French artist Di Rosa, he created the only public modern artwork in the capital city of Accra.

Setordji is active in West African regional organizations that support and mentor young artists and artisans. In 1994 he founded the ArtHAUS, which offers residences where artists share ideas and work without pressure or disturbance. He sits on the board of several institutes devoted to developing the creative arts. These include the Alliance Française and the NUBUKE Foundation


The work of Shahzia Sikander spans a variety of media, including drawing, large-scale wall installations, animation, and video. Examining the provenance and canon of Indo-Persian miniature painting, Sikander pioneered an experimental approach to this genre in the mid-1980s in Lahore, Pakistan, and brought it into the realm of contemporary art. Her work launched a major following in Lahore, where the Miniature Painting department at the National College of Arts has undergone a historic transformation, becoming a sought-after choice for young artists pursuing majors in the Fine Arts program.

Sikander's work deconstructs the conventional methods of addressing traditional miniature paintings and reassembles them to expand their associations, inserting new dialogues, often subversive in nature. Using wit, irony, and paradox, Sikander's inventiveness draws upon literary, pop, media, and historical contexts.

Based in New York, Sikander researches and develops her works in various locations. Recent projects were an outcome of her many visits to Laos, Berlin, and Pakistan from 2006 to 2008. Sikander's work is in collections in New York at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Collections in California include those at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and San Diego Museum of Art. Her work is also included in the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Philadelphia Museum of Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Houston Museum of Fine Arts; and Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, among others.

Her work has been featured in solo exhibitions at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2007); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2007-08); and Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, England (2008). Her awards include the National Pride of Honor from the Pakistani government. In 2004, Newsweek listed her as one of the most important South Asians transforming the American cultural landscape. Her work has been regularly reviewed in publications including Art Forum, Art News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time. In 2006 Sikander was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in Davos and she is a MacArthur Fellow (2007 to 2011).

The 2008 Bellagio Creative Arts Advisory Panel

Amada Cruz, Program Director for United States Artists, lives and works in Los Angeles.

Anna Danieri is the Curator of the Advanced Course in Visual Arts for the Fondazione Antonio Ratti in Como, Italy.

Elena del Rivero, a visual artist, migrated from Spain to New York in 1991.

Catherine de Zegher, currently Director of Exhibitions at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada, is the former Director of the Drawing Center, New York, and co-founder and Director of the Kanaal Art Foundation in Belgium.

Mario Garcia Durham, Director of Presenting at the National Endowment for the Arts, was the founder and Executive Director of the Yerba Buena Arts and Events in San Francisco.

N'Gone Fall, an independent curator and art critic, is based in Senegal and France.

Mario Fortunato, Director of the Fondazione Antonio Ratti, Como, Italy, is a literary critic for the magazine L'Espresso and the daily newspaper La Stampa.

Kim Hong-hee is Director of the Gyeonggi Museum of Modern Art in Korea.

Abaseh Mirvali lives in Mexico City where she is the Executive Director of the Fundacion/Collecion Jumex.

Aneta Syzlak, curator and art theorist, is the co-founder and Director of Wyspa Institute of Art in Gdansk, Poland.

Nicholas Tsoutas is the Artistic Director of Casula Powerhouse International Centre of Contemporary Art in Sydney, Australia.

Isao Tsujimoto, the Director-General of the Japan Foundation in New York, is acting Director of the Japan Foundation Center for Global Partnership.

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