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Christopher Coleman, MFA 2003, wins first Babelgum Metropolis Art Prize

December 16, 2009  by: Dom

Still from Chris Coleman's The Magnitude of the Continental Divides, HD Animation, 2009 with sound design by David Fodel

Still from Chris Coleman's The Magnitude of the Continental Divides, HD Animation, 2009 with sound design by David Fodel

Winner and best runner-up art videos to debut at free public screening December 17 in Times Square hosted by Rossellini

Entries now on view at

LONDON/ NEW YORK (December 15, 2009) – Babelgum, the independent web and mobile video content platform, today announces the winners of its latest effort to showcase new emerging art stars, the Babelgum Metropolis Art Prize chaired by iconic art-house actress and video artist Isabella Rossellini.

Launched in September 2009, the contest attracted over 400 videos representing the work of the best and edgiest artists on six continents, competing for three main prizes worth a total of $30,000. The winning videos, two runner-ups in each category and two Special Mentions entries will be screened at a free public event in New York’s Times Square on December 17 at 7 pm hosted by head judge Isabella Rossellini, which will also include a screening of her latest short film co-directed by Guy Maddin, “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair.”

The Babelgum Metropolis Grand Prize ($20,000) went to Denver, Colorado-based artist Christopher Coleman for “The Magnitude of the Continental Divide.” An animation exploring the way we define ourselves and our nations, the piece deals with various states of withdrawal and aggression. It is a think-piece on the state of modern warfare, where weapons and damage are dealt impersonally from afar.

A 2003 MFA graduate of New York State University in Buffalo, Coleman is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Denver. The artist was twice a participant in the VIPER Basel Festival in Switzerland and has had his work in exhibitions in many countries including Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Italy, Germany, France, China, the UK and Latvia. His winning entry can be viewed at

Jacopo Ceccarelli aka 2501 a Milan born artist now dividing his time between Italy, Berlin and Sao Paulo, Brazil, earned The Babelgum Metropolis Best Street Art Award ($5,000) for his work, “Mask”. The dreamlike piece is an evocative excursion into Brazil’s dark colonial past through a night time examination of statuary and monuments in Brazil’s busiest metropolis. Sao Paulo. His winning piece was influenced by his move to Sao Paulo at age 20, when his approach to painting evolved after contact with major names in the South American graffiti school.  Since 2004, Ceccarelli’s work has been featured in 13 solo and groups shows including “Muralismo Morte” at Motorhalle in Dresden (2009), “TEC 2008” at Berlin’s MYMO Gallery and “Urban Edge Show at Esposizione Collettiva in Milan (2006). Entry at

The New York City-based collective, Improv Everywhere, was the top vote of web-site visitors and grand prize winner of The Babelgum Metropolis Audience Award ($5,000) for “Subway Yearbook Photos.” In the piece, the troupe of actors and artists installed a photography studio on a random subway car, claiming that the MTA had hired them to take photos of every single person who rides the subway to produce a high school-styled yearbook at the end of the year. The resulting photos and video demonstrate the diversity and range of emotions expressed by New York City subway riders.  Founded in August 2001, Improv Everywhere’s mission is to “cause scenes of chaos and joy in public places.” The group has executed over 100 missions involving tens of thousands of undercover agents. Entry at

“I was very pleased to play this role in launching the first Babelgum Metropolis Art Prize, to the arts community and a worldwide community that was reached via the web,” states Isabella Rossellini.  “None of the other art competitions that I know of have the ability of publicizing art globally and the explicit mission to establish a firm link between art and video.  I’ve been doing art films my entire life, but it wasn’t until I released Green Porno earlier this year that I realized the power of online media to draw audiences to original work. The Metropolis Art Prize will give artists all over the world the kind of worldwide audience and exposure they so richly deserve.

“The quality, passion and political viewpoints of the entries was very exciting, especially our winners,” continues Rossellini.  “I really look forward to seeing the reaction of the worldwide audience that will be present at the December 17 screening in Times Square.”

“The Metropolis Art Prize has been a wonderful platform to engage our worldwide audience of art and culture-lovers, “states Laurence Billiet, publisher, Babelgum Metropolis. “Showcasing these edge-pushing videos by emerging artist perfectly complements our existing programming slate, which provide the newest and best in art, street art, urban culture and documentaries.”

The entries were judged by an illustrious panel including Lee Wells, the Curator-at-Large for the SCOPE Art Fair and Co-founding Director of the video art archive Perpetual Art Machine, Cedar Lewisohn, Curator of the Tate Modern gallery’s groundbreaking Street Art exhibition (2008) and Howard Halle, chief art critic for Time Out New York and former curator of Performance Art at The Kitchen.

“Coleman’s winning piece is digital graffiti that plays into the graphic style of socio-political concepts of 21st Century style street graffiti, almost animated aerosol if you will,” states contest judge Lee Wells of the Metropolis Grand Prize Award winner. “All of his work is impressive and this work suits the digital screen medium better than any other of the 450 plus entries.”

“I was impressed with the quality of all the entries, so choosing a winner was very tough,” adds judge Cedar Lewisohn. “The works I selected were ones that can have a genuine visual or political effect when shown on the screen in Times Square.  I love the idea of giving individuals who are effectively anti-advertising one of the world’s most famous public advertising venues to play with.”

“The opportunity The Metropolis Art Prize afforded video artists was further evidence that the audience for art is not only growing, but also expanding beyond conventional venues like museums and galleries,” adds judge Howard Halle.  “In thinking about the entries, I tried to keep in mind that audience, and what would work in a non-traditional context like Times Square: What would be successful on that scale, and still be immediately identifiable as “art.” It was a fantastic challenge, and I’m very pleased with the selections made.”

Contest runner-ups whose videos will also be shown at the December 17 event include: Metropolis Grand Prize Runner-Up: Hye Yeon Nam, Atlanta, USA – “Wonderland”; Sjors Vervoort, Amsterdam, Netherlands – “Cardboard”; Street Art Runner-Up: Jason Eppink, New York, USA – “Pixelator;” Jeorge Simas, Sao Paulo, Brazil – “Suspended Gardens of Babylon”; Audience Award Runner-Up: Davide Pepe, Brindisi, Italy – “Last Kodachrome 40 for a Nizo S800” and “Simple Future Present;” Special Mention: Bruno Levy, New York, USA – “Modeselektor” and Peter Vadocz, Hungary – “Colourful EU”.

The winners and other contest entrants and art notables will then fete the artists at an event at the Jonathan Levine Gallery in Chelsea open to the public.

About Babelgum (

Babelgum is an integrated web and mobile video content platform free for users and supported by advertising available on-demand to a global audience. Babelgum Mobile is an original application currently available in the United States, UK, Italy, Germany, France and Spain which brings regionally tailored programming to smart phones – at present iPhone 3G, iPod Touch, Google Android G-Phones 1 and 2, Nokia (N96, N95 and 6210) – via 3G and WiFi.

Positioned between user generated video hubs and network TV-oriented destinations, Babelgum focuses on the third part of the ecosystem: innovative, professionally produced content on very specific passions – music, comedy, film, urban culture, nature and the environment – curated by experts in their fields. Babelgum’s programming is comprised of exclusive original productions as well as independent and mainstream titles. Babelgum’s content partners include, among others, EMI, Sony Music, the New York Times, PBS, BBC, VBS, Lonely Planet, Coolhunting, National Geographic, Funny or Die, T5M, Shine Limited, Cinetic Rights Management, Content Republic, Gong Anime, The Workbook Project, Cinelan, Power to the Pixel and Off the Fence as well as the Encounters, Los Angeles, and Hamptons film festivals.

The company has also set up a series of online contests to nurture independent film, music and art talent: the Babelgum Online Film Festival, the Babelgum Music Video Awards and the Babelgum Metropolis Art Prize chaired respectively by Spike Lee, Michel Gondry and Isabella Rossellini. Babelgum is an independent and privately held company with offices in the United States, UK, Ireland, France and Italy.

For further information contact:

Sal Cataldi/Kaitlin Lindsey at Cataldi PR
+1 212 244-9797

Andrea Giannotti, Babelgum Media Relations Director
Cell: UK +44 7825 892 640

202 Center for the Arts, North Campus
Buffalo, New York 14260-6010
(716) 645-6878
(716) 645-6970 fax
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