interior of a red, eerily-lit space
"Leviathan" installation by Anish Kapoor in Paris, 2011 (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

‘Unseemly’ to ignore refugees, says artist Kapoor as he wins ‘Jewish Nobel’

Anish Kapoor, an innovative artist and longtime social activist, has won the 2017 Genesis Prize.

Anish Kapoor walks with a crowd
Anish Kapoor in a September 2015 solidarity march with migrants in London (Photo/Getty Images-Ben Pruchnie)

Kapoor, the son of a Baghdadi Jewish mother and Indian father, was tapped Feb. 5 for the “Jewish Nobel.” He joins Itzhak Perlman, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and actor Michael Douglas as recipients of the $1 million prize.

The Bombay native, who moved to Israel at 16 but has been based in the United Kingdom since the 1970s, said he will use his award to help alleviate the Syrian refugee crisis and try to expand the Jewish community’s engagement in a global effort to support refugees.

The Genesis Prize recognizes individuals who have attained excellence and international renown in their fields, and whose actions and achievements express a commitment to Jewish values, the Jewish community and the State of Israel. It is awarded by the Genesis Prize Foundation in partnership with the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel and the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Kapoor, a sculptor whose works can be found at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Chicago’s Millennium Park, and the “Orbit” in London, also created the Holocaust memorial for the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in London and the 70 candles for Holocaust Memorial Day in Britain in 2015, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.

Knighted in 2013, Kapoor has been a public advocate for the cause of refugees and an outspoken advocate for displaced people around the world.

“Jewish identity and history have witnessed recurring conditions of indifference, persecution and Holocaust,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency and head of the Genesis Prize selection committee, noted that Kapoor “has campaigned against indifference his whole life. His message is clear, powerful, and inspiring.”

JTA

JTA news agency