Basel, The Baloise Art Prize has been awarded to the Canadian artist Sara Cwynar and Mary Reid Kelley from the USA. The prize of CHF 30,000.- will be presented at the Statements sector of Art Basel by a jury of international experts. The prize includes the acquisition by Baloise of a group of works by the award winners, which are donated to two important museums in Europe: the MMK, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt a.M. and the MUDAM, Luxembourg.
This year’s jury includes: Marie-Noëlle Farcy, Curator/Head of Collection, MUDAM, Luxembourg; Sabine Schaschl, Director, Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich; Peter Gorschlüter, Deputy Director MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt a.M.; Dr. Yilmaz Dziewior, Director Museum Ludwig, Cologne and Martin Schwander, Fine Art Advisor of Baloise, Chairman of the jury.
In Soft Film, Sara Cwynar has produced an entertaining and yet complex inquiry into fundamental aspects of photography, in particular its production and dissemination in digital and analogue systems. Her video essay, largely filmed in 16mm format, links performative elements with reflections on the construction of the photographic image.
Cwynar buys cast-off objects on eBay and purchases photographs in a second-hand store. These she organizes and archives by colour, material and subject matter. Social concerns, such as the circulation and value of objects, as well as feminist issues and the significance of personal incidents and historical events all come into play. The artist poses crucial questions about what photographed imagery means to us today both individually and socially. In so doing, she deploys an aesthetics that varies from the deliberate parading of a do-it-yourself character to the seductive power of professional advertising.
Sara Cwynar, *1985 in Vancouver, lives in Brooklyn, New York
Mary Reid Kelley has been awarded the Baloise Prize for her film This Is Offal, which takes an intense, offbeat approach to the sensitive topic of female suicide. Echoing the tradition of the theater of the absurd, the film takes place in a morgue with the woman’s corpse laid out on a table.
Crucial to the drama, staged in the film, is the dialogue between the woman’s ghost and her own organs and body parts: liver, heart and brain as well as severed foot and hand. The rhyming dialogue, rich in wordplay, explores the fact of death, the value of life and the role of human organs inside the body and in society. The decision of the jury was motivated not only by the innovative use of technology but also by the profound and entertaining way in which the artist addresses a socially charged issue.
Mary Reid Kelley, *1979 in Greenville, South Carolina, lives in Saratoga Springs, New York