And the Winners are…
Congratulations to the winners of this year’s Swiss Art Awards!
The Award Ceremony and Opening of the Swiss Art Awards 2016 will be celebrated this evening, 13 June from 5.30 pm on in the presence of the Director of the Federal Office of Culture, Isabelle Chassot. For this year’s edition of the awards (initiated in 1899), the Federal Office of Culture will honour 9 artists, 1 architectural office, and 1 editor on the basis of recommendations by the Federal Art Commission and specially invited experts.
Meet the winners and learn about the jury’s decision – hope to see you all tonight!
WINNERS IN THE CATEGORY: ART
(born 1974 in Zurich, lives and works in Basel/Zurich/Athens)
In her latest work, Private: Wear A Mask When You Talk to Me, Alexandra Bachzetsis deals once more with everyday movements and behaviours. Her sources of inspiration include Trisha Brown’s choreography and pictures by the German photographer Marianne Wex, who depicted the routine gestures people make in public spaces. Her repertoire also extends to videos posted on YouTube by teenagers, oriental dance performed by drag queens, exercises and western yoga practices as well as footballing and pornographic poses. Bachzetsis devotes her solo at the end of the piece to her own identity: a Greek rebetiko and the performer’s unaccompanied voice battling for survival amid the social theatre of gender and national identities. Bachzetsis has succeeded yet again in captivating the jury with her intense stage presence and skilful sampling of pop culture and social and cultural history.
(born 1984 in Monthey, lives and works in Martigny/Lausanne)
Sylvain Croci-Torti presents two monochrome canvases in white and yellow, each 330 x 260 cm in size. The oversize dimensions of the pictures and the even application of the paint give the impression that they have been painted with mechanical assistance, perhaps with a movable blade like the one used in screen printing – a technique with which the artist has experimented in the past. Thus, Croci-Torti boldly revisits a genre of painting in which it hardly seems possible to find anything new these days: monochrome. His idiosyncratic technique for applying the paint succeeds in creating a tense surface with subtle colour overlaps and carefully placed gaps; but his work also stands out in the way it is positioned spatially. Taking as his starting point the measurements of the standardised niche, the artist installs the canvases (which are per se two-dimensional) with such extreme precision that the painting extends into the room. The work expands its way out of the niche, rising above the movable walls and creating a strong presence within the hall.
(born 1979 in Lausanne, lives and works in Geneva)
The artist Aurélien Gamboni is an investigator. His work takes the form of field research, the results of which are translated into installations, drawings, videos texts or lectures/performances. For some years, he has been engaged in an art-historical study and criminal investiga- tion centred on the enigmatic painting The Conjurer, originated between 1475 und 1505 and attributed to Hieronymus Bosch. It was stolen by the revolutionary group Action Directe and found again in 1979, three months later. The jury was particularly impressed by the polysemy of his chosen materials and media (linen canvas, scratchbo- ard, screen). Like a visual rebus, his installation is formally highly controlled yet open, and demands both attention and active participation from the viewer.
(born 1978 in Gottshaus, lives and works in Zurich/Fuerteventura)
Florian Germann’s installations weave together historical events and myths, semi-fictional accounts, fantastical fairy tales and scientific facts. He makes use of unusual materials and works them into alchemistic processes. The sound sculpture emf / liquidstate fits seamlessly into a new series of minimal sculptures that draw on sources including Japanese architecture. A motion sensor turns us from viewer into participant, our physical presence causing a viscous fluid (water mixed with viscose and polymer) in a Plexiglas basin to be jolted by sudden bursts of compressed air. The deformation of the surface is accompanied by a loud but mellow plop sound. Germann impressed the jury with his combination of adroit crafts- manship and formal precision, expertly slipping into the role of artist-scientist or Renaissance man.
(born 1982 in Luxembourg, lives and works in Basel/London)
In a vocal performance during which she converses with small assemblies of everyday objects arranged in space, Sophie Jung conjures up the figure of a woman immersed in her own thoughts and the associations of ideas that they generate. The words tumble out and pile up like some darkly humorous, homemade slam and invariably end up overflowing. Yet behind this excess lies a fragile individual who could, at any moment, tip over into madness. The jury particularly admired the precision of the writing and the skill of a performance that is at once amusing and profound, in which a human being cogitates like a manic search engine and ends up losing sight of herself.
(born 1979 in Trier, lives and works in Basel)
While Jan Kiefer’s stained-glass installation draws on the aesthetic of Art Nouveau – from Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen to Tiffany & Co – its four elements also evoke the kitsch universe of a 1960s domestic interior. The three cats are larger than life-size, lending them a strangeness that is underscored by the presence of the cactus. Suspended at the level of their audience, the pieces move slowly and silently, like ghosts or vestiges of the past come back to haunt a world that is no longer their own. The commission was impressed by the quality of the installation and the unique world of its creator, rendered here in a work that is both simple and effective.
(born 1983 in Lucerne, lives and works in Basel/Paris)
The Turritopsis dohrnii jellyfish, considered by biologists to be immortal because it can regenerate its DNA up to 14 times and therefore technically be born again, thus becomes the comic hero of a complex work, capable of commenting on the state of a capitalist model on the verge of collapse while at the same time comparing it to the equally rigid paradigms of the contemporary art world. Dominique Koch’s work has always sought to redefine the interactions between art and reality. She takes fields of knowledge that are normally remote from each other and brings them together in specially conceived workshops. Content drawn from widely differing areas of research converges on the instant of its mediation, creating unlikely encounters but also, often, revealing urgent concerns that normally pass unnoticed amid the ceaseless flow of information. In A Shadow is Not a Substance, she combi- nes the fate of a particular type of jellyfish, statements by the philosopher Maurizio Lazzarato and a vocal interpretation by the poet Seijiro Murayama, who reads out the possible combinations of DNA in the jellyfish as if reciting a Dada poem. The jury was particularly impressed by the installation’s linguistic innovativeness.
(born 1972 in Oberburg, lives and works in Geneva/Bern)
Gabriela Löffel has been attracting attention for some years with video works in which she explores the forms of language and rhetoric that lie at the heart of the economy and political institutions. She now presents The Case, which centres on the final rounds of the Elsa Moot Court Competition on WTO Law – a prestigious legal hearing competition organised by the World Trade Organization WTO at its headquarters in Geneva. Teams of students from top international universities who are at a key moment in their careers come face to face to contest a fictional but highly realistic legal case involving an economic conflict between two states over water supply. As we follow the submissions, in which the same team disconcertingly pleads first for the complainant and then for the respondent, the camera meticulously scans the room, pausing over the jury and picking out the details of the candidates’ faces, and highlighting the quest to find words and rhetorical forms in which to convey contemporary political issues.
(born 1981 in Bern, lives and works in Berlin)
Draped like a vast canopy and hanging from the ceiling, Reto Pulfer’s dyed textile assembled from reclaimed fabrics evokes both the décor of an Italian renaissance painting and a temporary new-age dwelling. The zenithal lighting is theatrically directed towards a wooden bench, hinting at the possibility of an event that has already taken place or is yet to come. On a small table, a collection of objects – sculptures or objects drawn from nature – lie like mysterious talismans. At once solid and ethereal, constructed and intuitive, the installation is like a huge painting without a frame, or the backdrop for a narrative of disguised characters.
The jury was impressed by the polysemic richness of a work in which the ephemeral combines with the codes of the settled to create a tension that is both poetic and sensitive.
WINNERS IN THE CATEGORY: ARCHITECTURE
Dreier Frenzel Architecture, Lausanne and Berlin, founded 2008
(Yves Dreier, born 1979 in Geneva, and Eik Frenzel, born 1979 in Dresden, live and work in Lausanne)
The installation by the architecture firm Dreier Frenzel from the French-speaking part of Switzerland sheds light on a specific aspect of its long-standing engagement with residential architecture and also exemplifies the two architects’ working method. Using four pieces cut with painstaking precision from the façade of a villa awaiting demolition, Dreier and Frenzel question the constructio- nal and atmospheric qualities of architecture for living spaces. They attempt to arrive at a definition of the term domesticity, which cannot be found in any book on construction, by carefully observing the surroundings and meticulously investigating and dissecting contemporary narratives. What is domesticity, and how is it achieved? Dreier and Frenzel exhibit a careful and precise approach to their work. The exhibition space becomes at once a small visible storage area and a library, inviting the viewer to think and explore.
WINNER IN THE CATEGORY: CRITIQUE EDITION EXHIBITION
(born 1977 in Aarau, lives and works in Zurich)
Ever since the Nieves publishing house was founded in 2001, its concept has been as simple as it is innovative: to produce and distribute fanzines and artist’s books worldwide.
Benjamin Sommerhalder is the tireless driving force behind the project, which to date has brought forth over 200 publications that differ from other publishing products in two ways: their format and the fact that each is an artistic project in its own right. Over the years, Nieves has established itself as a unique and irreplaceable feature of the Swiss publishing landscape, and has also acted as an international platform for numerous Swiss artists to create their first publications. The jury applauds the quality of Nieves’ work, its innovative spirit and the singular nature of the enterprise.
CONGRATULATONS TO ALL WINNERS!!!