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Anish Kapoor pledges $1 million to Syrian refugees

The Indian-origin artist will give his winnings of the 2017 Genesis Prize to address one of the largest humanitarian crises of our times

Anish Kapoor has been vocal in his support of Syrian refugees. Photo: AFP
Anish Kapoor has been vocal in his support of Syrian refugees. Photo: AFP

UK-based artist Anish Kapoor, who was named the 2017 Genesis Prize Laureate earlier this month, has pledged to give away the $1 million award to the humanitarian crisis in Syrian.

The 62-year old artist, who was born in Mumbai to a Jewish Bhagdadi mother and Hindu father, has been vocal in his support of Syrian refugees.

According to the Genesis Foundation, Kapoor will use his $1 million award to help alleviate the refugee crisis.

In a statement, reported by the Guardian, Kapoor said, “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 refugee crisis is right here on our doorstep."

He added, “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."

The Foundation said that it is now a tradition for the Genesis Prize Laureates to direct the $1 million award, as well as matching funds contributed by other philanthropists, to causes they feel passionate about. The laureates also commit to yearlong engagement initiatives developed jointly with the Genesis Prize Foundation. Further details of Kapoor’s “re-gifting" are promised in June.

From visiting children at the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordon on the invitation of Unicef, in 2014, to talk to children about art and marching in solidarity with refugees crossing Europe in 2015, Kapoor’s engagement with the crisis is well known. He donated a 50.5cm x 66cm gouache on paper work for a 2014 Unicef auction, along with other well-known artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Martin Creed and Dan Rees.

According to the UN human rights commission, over 4 million people have fled Syria since 2011 to Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and a few European states.

The Genesis Foundation annually honours individuals who have attained excellence in their chosen profession and displayed dedication to the Jewish community and/or the State of Israel. Kapoor created the Holocaust Memorial for the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London and the 70 candles for Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain in 2015, commemorating 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp in Poland.

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