Detained artist is finalist in int’l art award

Artist and political detainee Ericson Acosta is one of the three finalists in the prestigious 2011 Imprisoned Artist Prize.

The other two finalists are musician Win Maw of Burma and filmmaker Dhondup Wanchen of Tibet.

The Imprisoned Artist Prize is one of the awards given by Freedom to Create, an international award-giving body launched in 2008 that aims to celebrate the courage and creativity of artists and the positive influence of their work to promote social justice and inspire the human spirit.

One winner will be awarded USD$25,000, which will then be utilized in securing the artist’s release, and advocacies and campaigns for his or her freedom.

“In 2011, we have received over 2000 prize entries from more than 145 countries around the globe. A total prize fund of US$100,000 will be awarded to the winning artists and their nominated advocacy organizations to further the cause their artwork has highlighted,” the group’s website said.

Among the judges are actress Daryl Hannah, novelist Salman Rushdie and danseur Mikhail Baryshnikov. Winners will be announced on the Freedom to Create Award Festival on November 19 in Cape Town, South Africa.

Acosta is an artist, journalist and cultural worker arrested by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on February 13, 2011 in Barangay Bay-ang, San Jorge, Samar province in the Eastern Visayan region. He faces trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives and is currently detained at the Calbayog City sub-provincial jail.

Even in jail, Acosta continues to make his art and music heard despite and in spite of the most pressing of circumstances. A raw recording dubbed “Prison Sessions” featuring Acosta singing his original compositions in jail instantly enjoyed thousands of hits and followers online. He also maintains an online journal, Jailhouse Blog.

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