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Last Updated: Friday, 31 March 2006, 20:33 GMT 21:33 UK
Finnish artist wins Artes Mundi
Eija-Liisa Ahtila
Ahtila describes her installations as 'human dramas'
A Finnish artist and film maker has been announced as the winner of the second 40,000 Artes Mundi prize.

Helsinki-based Eija-Liisa Ahtila, 46, was one of eight competing in Cardiff for the biennial visual arts prize, one of the world's biggest.

Ahtila uses sound, voice-overs and music to make film, video and photo installations about human emotions.

Judges said they were impressed by the "sophistication of her artistic language".

Speaking from her home, she said: "I was really surprised. It must have been really difficult to choose one of the artists but I'm really happy."

She said the money would go on renovating her home, which she said had a "mouldy cellar," and hiring a part-time nanny for her newly adopted five-year-old Chinese son, to allow her to work on new installations.

The judges picked Ahtila on the basis of her work over the last three to five years.

A spokeswoman for the Artes Mundi said: "She combines the objectivity of a documentary maker with the imaginary visualisations of a psychologist.

"She describes her films as 'human dramas'. Details of daily living, accounts of surreal activities and evidence of states of mind meld visually into works which are enhanced by the cinematic and televisual qualities of the media she uses."

'Cultural map

Ahtila receives 40,000, which compares with 25,000 for the winner of the Turner prize at the Tate in London.

The prize is backed by the Welsh assembly government and Wales' culture minister, Alun Pugh, was on hand to congratulate her.

The House by Eija-Liisa Ahtila
The House, one of the winning works by Eija-Liisa Ahtila

He said: "This prestigious prize offers an opportunity for artists from across the world to engage in cultural debate and activity, present new and exciting visual contemporary art to new audiences and places Wales on the international, cultural map."

The competition, based in Wales and funded by 34 different sources, drew interest from artists in 60 countries.

The show displays the shortlisted works over seven galleries on two floors at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. The public will be able to see the works until 7 May.

'Human condition'

This year's shortlist included one British artist, Sue Williams, the second Welsh artist to be nominated for the two prizes awarded to date.

The winner of the 2004 prize was Chinese artist Xu Bin, with work made from dust from Ground Zero in New York.

Gerardo Mosquera, chair of the 2006 judging panel, praised Ahtila's work.

He said: "We were impressed by the sophistication of her artistic language, how she has developed and extended our experience of video art together with artist film, and how her subject matter relates in a profound yet personal way to Artes Mundi's theme of the human condition."

Hear Eija-Liisa Ahtila talk about her work

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