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Jan 08 2020

Toe to Toe: M+ Inaugural Sigg Prize Exhibition

by Lauren Long

ULI SIGG with the six finalists of the inaugural M+ Sigg Prize. From left to right, LIN YILIN, HU XIAOYUAN, ULI SIGG, LIANG SHOU, TAO HUI, SHEN XIN and SAMSON YOUNG. All photos by Lauren Long for ArtAsiaPacific.

Video installations appeared to be de rigueur at M+’s Sigg Prize show, where four of the six finalists presented projects of the same media. Revealed on December 5 at the M+ Pavilion, the exhibition, organized by Sigg senior curator Pi Li, included works made during the past two years by the shortlisted artists, who had been selected by an international jury. The prize recognizes the achievements of practitioners either born in the Greater China Region or based there, and was formerly the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA), founded by collector Uli Sigg. 

Immediately by the Pavilion’s entrance was Shen Xin’s four-channel video Provocation of the Nightingale (2017), which explores the questions concerning identities and ethics that genetic engineering raises. Four seemingly unrelated videos with fragmented visuals, including clips from historical documentaries, are connected by their mutual focus on the female perspective on these issues. For his video-and-sound installation Muted Situations #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th (2018), displayed nearby, Samson Young asked the Flora Sinfonie Orchester of Cologne to interpret Tchaikovsky’s piece without actually playing music. Sound recordings of the musicians’ movements accompanied a video of their performance within a darkened room of the exhibition. This rendition of the score, which conveys the notion of “strife to victory,” speaks to struggles against forces of oppression.

Rows of individual screens showed nine melodramatic short clips about time and death, which constitute Hello, Finale! (2017) by Tao Hui. Seated in an armchair in front of a monitor, visitors watched a protagonist speaking into their phone about the end of a relationship, job, or life. The three videos by Lin Yilin draw from different stages of his life: Typhoon (2019) is set in in Guangzhou where he was born; The Second 1/3 Monad (2018) was shot at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the city where he resides; while The Back (2019) was created in Rome, where he staged a performance critiquing recent changes to the Chinese Constitution. Collectively, the works examine the domination of certain art institutions and political entities. In a room by itself was Hu Xiaoyuan’s Spheres of Doubt (2019), composed of steel structures sourced from demolished building sites and other found objects, wrapped by aged raw silk. The silk, which is itself birthed from the death of silkworms, insinuates the passing of time as it slowly decomposes.

Outdoors, Liang Shuo’s bamboo installation In the Peak (2019) encircled parts of the Pavilion’s exterior. Inspired by the centuries-old Chinese scaffolding method only widely used in Hong Kong today, Liang’s immersive spiral walkway framed the Victoria Peak and the M+ building. 

Tackling a diverse range of pertinent issues that surpass national boundaries, the projects highlighted the broad scopes of the artists’ practices. The winner of the award will be announced in March, and will be conferred a cash prize of HKD 500,000 (USD 64,000). It’s anyone’s guess who will take the award home.

Here are the contending entries from the six finalists:

SHEN XIN’s four-channel video Provocation of the Nightingale (2017) is played across three sections of screens programmed to start after the completion of the previous video. The whole experience, encompassing four videos, takes 53 minutes. Here in the first video, two women discuss science and faith on a stage.
SHEN XIN’s four-channel video Provocation of the Nightingale (2017) is played across three sections of screens programmed to start after the completion of the previous video. The whole experience, encompassing four videos, takes 53 minutes. Here in the first video, two women discuss science and faith on a stage.
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Lauren Long is ArtAsiaPacific’s news and web editor.

Sigg Prize 2019 exhibition” is on view at M+ Pavilion, Hong Kong, until April 13, 2020.

To read more of ArtAsiaPacific’s articles, visit our Digital Library.

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