COAL Award 2021: An edition on the forest

COAL Award 2021: An edition on the forest

In a few decades, the forest has become the symbol and the point of convergence of covetousness, environmental disasters and struggles that are shaking the contemporary world in crisis. The COAL 2021 Prize is dedicated to these central issues.

Image credits: Camille Plancher, 22 ans. Activiste francais, il mène des actions de désobéissance civiles en s’attachant aux arbres sur les zones de coupes. 
Bialowieza. Poland.
Octobre 2017

Thirteen million hectares of forest disappear each year, under the pressure of agriculture, overgrazing, timber exploitation, and urbanization; entire sections of the forests of Amazonia, Australia, and sub-Saharan Africa burn while others die on the ground under the effect of global warming, thus depriving the fauna of its natural habitats. All over the world, people are fighting to defend these reserves of life and culture and to make them the models for new worlds to be built.

Forests alone are home to 80% of the world’s terrestrial biodiversity. They regulate the climate, contribute to the production of oxygen and constitute the second largest carbon sink after the oceans. They regulate river flows and sea level rise, maintain soil fertility, protect coasts from extreme weather events, and create migration corridors for animal and plant species. Both chain and link of the planetary ecosystem, the forest, preserved and restored, is one of the first Solutions based on Nature capable of curbing the crisis of biodiversity and climate.

Vital for the global balance of ecosystems, the forest is equally vital for human societies that, for thousands of years, have lived directly or indirectly from its resources. The excesses of forest management and exploitation, such as monoculture, must be curbed at a time when wood is once again becoming one of the first natural resources to be considered renewable, for energy and materials, from the construction of houses to paper manufacturing.

Source of income, means of subsistence, the forest is also a place of life for many indigenous peoples who are now waging a war to the death to defend a different relationship with nature and the living. The “wood” is this political place, historical refuge for libertarians and resistance fighters. Marginals, outcasts and witches, who cohabit with the wolf and the cursed, haunt the imagination of the forest. Object of fear or haven of peace, it conveys a multitude of stories and knowledge that send us back to the borders of humanity.

The COAL 2021 Prize invites artists from around the world to reveal the richness of the forests, to feel and experience the ecological balance of the forests, to promote the diversity of the beings and cultures that inhabit them, to revive their ancestral knowledge and give birth to new ones, to nourish the movements of resilience that they inspire, to act with their protectors and to invent other ways of being together in the woods.

This edition dedicated to the forest echoes the new festival Les Nuits des Forêts, of which COAL is one of the co-founders.


Ten projects are nominated by a selection committee composed of professionals from among all the applications received in the framework of an international call for projects. One of them is awarded the COAL Prize by a jury composed of representatives of the partner organizations and personalities of art and ecology. In addition, all the applications considered by COAL and the selection committee allow to introduce artists and projects that can be solicited or promoted according to other opportunities and actions carried out by the association and its partners.

JURY 2021

  • Frédérique Aït-Touati, Researcher at the CNRS and director
  • Daria de Beauvais, Exhibition curator at the Palais de Tokyo
  • Catherine Dobler, Founder of the LAccolade Foundation
  • Christine Germain-Donnat, Director of the Museum of Hunting and Nature
  • Paul Jarquin, Founder and President of REI Habitat, President of Fibois IDF
  • Olivier Lerude, Senior official for sustainable development at the Ministry of Culture
  • Charlotte Meunier, President of the Nature Reserves of France
  • Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, Head of Cultural Programming at the Cité internationale des arts
  • Marc-André Selosse, Biologist, Professor at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris
  • Joelle Zask, Philosopher


The winner of the COAL Prize receives a 10,000 euro grant and a residency (optional) hosted by the Museum of Hunting and Nature at the Domaine de Belval, property of the François Sommer Foundation.

The domain of Belval is located in the commune of Belval-Bois-des-Dames, in the French Ardennes. With a surface area of nearly 1000 enclosed hectares, it is essentially forested and covered with meadows and 40 hectares of ponds. A true observatory of rurality and wildlife, it welcomes each year artists selected for their contribution to the renewal of the vision of the relationship between man and his natural environment. As a testimony to the Foundation’s commitment to supporting contemporary artistic creation, the residency at the Belval estate contributes to the dissemination of the artists’ works to a wide audience.

It also puts at the service of the creation a network of complementary skills carried by the scientific and educational teams of the Museum of Hunting and Nature and those of the Belval estate. We invite you to consult the charter on the COAL website.


Since 2014, the COAL Prize has been supported by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, the Ministry of Culture, theEuropean Union via the European cooperation program ACT (Art Climate Transition), and the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature and the François Sommer Foundation which allocates the artist’s endowment.

The François Sommer Foundation, recognized as a public utility since its creation on November 30, 1966, was created by François and Jacqueline Sommer, pioneers in the implementation of a humanist ecology. Faithful to the commitments of its founders, it works for the protection of a biodiversity where man finds his rightful place, for the respectful use of nature’s resources and the sharing of the wealth of natural, artistic and cultural heritage.

The LAccolade Foundation joins the partners of the COAL Prize
Created in October 2020 under the aegis of the Institut de France, the LAccolade Foundation supports research and artistic creation in all its forms and in all its states. It pays particular attention to creations, approaches, projects, and actions that are carried out by artists in connection with the themes of water, the environment, the fragility of life and the feminine. It also aims to value and promote the heritage, that is to say the legacy of women who have had historical or artistic importance.

The Fondation LAccolade develops creative residency programs, including one in Paris in the heart of the Saint-Germain des Prés district and another in California in the deserts of the West. These residencies are organized in the form of seasons with guest artists around a research theme. The first season of residencies takes up the aphorism of the writer Edouard Glissant: “Nothing is true, everything is alive.

She also initiated an art center in Palm Springs, The Elemental. This one, located at the doors of the Western deserts, will develop a program dedicated to artistic expressions and creations related to the living, Land and Earth Art. It will be inaugurated in the fall of 2021.

REI Habitat supports the 2021 edition dedicated to the forest
REI Habitat is a group of ecological real estate promotion, specialized in the construction of collective buildings in wood structure since 2009. By favoring local wood from sustainably managed forests, by renewing the forests through a reforestation strategy, REI Habitat intends to renew the forests as much as the cities. REI Habitat is the first PEFC-certified and wood-labeled developer in France.


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  • About us
    About us

    COAL mobilizes artists and cultural actors on societal and environmental issues and accompanies the emergence of a new culture of ecology through its actions such as the COAL Prize, curating exhibitions, advising institutions and communities, European cooperation, and the animation of conferences, workshops and the first dedicated website


    COAL has been awarding the COAL Prize Art and Environment every year since 2010 and the COAL Student Prize - Culture & Diversity since 2020.

  • Projects

    Major projects linked to the major events in political ecology, in connection with natural or urban environments.

  • Artistic direction
    Artistic direction

    About fifty exhibitions throughout France, cultural actions, works in the public space, and project support to contribute to the emergence of a new culture of ecology.


    Cooperation programs on a European and international scale, support for institutions in their ecological transition through tailor-made accompaniment and training, promotion of arts and ecology issues through publications and numerous conferences and workshops.