The Artes Mundi Prize has been established to celebrate visual culture within a global context. Set to become a biennial event, it showcases artists who have achieved recognition in their own country and are emerging internationally. The emphasis is upon those who are working with ideas of human form or presence, and producing art which adds to our understanding of the human condition.The inaugural Artes Mundi Prize, in 2004, attracted nominations from more than 60 countries. Respected curators Declan McGonagle and Fumio Nanjo spent a year visiting exhibitions and studios around the world, and considering the work of those nominated, before arriving at a shortlist of ten. This publication gives the background to the Prize and explores the work of the shortlisted artists in specially commissioned essays.