Northern Irish artist Mairéad McClean has been awarded the inaugural biennale MAC International art prize, at £20,000 the wealthiest of its kind ever to be staged in Northern Ireland.
Organised by The MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) in Belfast, the award was granted to McClean – who was born in County Tyrone and is currently based in London – at a glitzy awards ceremony on October 30, hosted by Scissor Sisters artist, Ana Matronic.
The competition received over 1,000 submissions from across the globe – who each paid a £20 handling fee, which ultimately made up the prize money – and is sponsored by Ulster Bank.
McClean's winning entry, created in 2014 and entitled 'No More', is a video piece commenting on internment – the imprisonment of individuals without trial – which was initiated in Northern Ireland in 1971 as part of the British Army's Operation Demetrius.
The video features found footage and images of former Northern Irish prime minister Brian Faulkner making a television address juxtaposed with footage of a dancer performing yoga-style choreography without restriction or impediment.
MAC curator Hugh Mulholland – who was joined on the MAC International judging panel by Francesco Bonami, artistic director of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin; and Judith Nesbitt, head of national and international partnerships, TATE London – said: 'All three judges agreed that Mairéad made a work that had stayed with us from the moment that we first saw it.'
Watch the video above to see a snippet of 'No More', hear Mulholland's thoughts on McClean as an artist, and learn more about the MAC International exhibition, which features all 24 shortlisted entries and runs in all three of The MAC's gallery spaces until January 18, 2015.