Nina Canell - Winner of 2009
At first sight, Nina Canell’s installation appears to be a more or less random composition of materials, devices, found pieces and everyday objects – a workshop? Closer inspection reveals that the items engage in a subtle dialogue and complex forms of interaction. Animated with the help of physics and above all electricity, they mutate from being objects into an overall event; they acquire a life of their own that is full of hidden surprises and unsettling variations on our customary experience of them. The banality of the selected artefacts stands in contrast to the basic sculptural questions that Canell raises in her installation, only to undermine them with irony and wit.
In addition to the cash prize, Baloise acquires a group of works by the award winners and donates them to two important European museums. Canell's work was presented to the collection of the mumok Vienna.
The precarious installations of Nina Canell could be read as essays on changeability and uncertainty. Hinged upon a fabric of electromagnetics, her communities of objects quietly interact with each other through modest arrangements, balancing careful ambitions to sustain certain frequencies, movements or altitudes. Electrical debris, wires and neon gas establish temporary, almost performative sculptural unions with natural findings such as water, wood or stones, yielding open-ended moments of synchronicity. An improvisational methodology and a flexibility of form highlight Canell’s quest for sculpture, which exists somewhere in between the material and the immaterial, forming and questioning the conductive relations between solid objects and mental events.