Martha Atienza and Sam Pulitzer Named Winners of Baloise Art Prize 2017
By Crystal Wu
Dutch-Filipino artist Martha Atienza has been announced as one of the winners of the 19th Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel on June 13, 2017, winning a cash prize of CHF 30,000 (USD 30,800) with her video installation Our Island, 11°16’58.4”N 123°45’07.0”E.
Atienza’s video shows a procession of people—Jesus Christ carrying the cross, cross-dressers and demonstrators with banners showing political slogans, threatened from behind by armed man—moving underwater, as though in an aquarium. It is a depiction of Ati-Atihan, a traditional festival consisting of tribal dances and music—except Atienza has moved the occasion below sea level in her video.
“They are fighting underwater. It shows survival. As they push through the currents, they themselves destroy what they live off from,” said Atienza.
The jury described her work as a “critical and humorous take not only on the state of society in the Philippines but also on the threat of climate change.”
In 2015, Atienza was one of the winners of the Cultural Center of the Philippines’ Thirteen Artists Award, a recognition given to artists under 40 years old in the nation. The artist is currently based in the Netherlands and the Philippines.
The prize will be presented at the Statements sector of Art Basel by a jury of international experts, including MUDAM curator and head of collection Marie-Noëlle Farcy, Kunsthalle Zurich director Daniel Baumann, Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin curator Sven Beckstette, Zak Group creative director Zak Kyes, and Baloise fine art advisor Martin Schwander.
The Baloise Art Prize is awarded to two artists annually. Apart from the cash prize, works by the winners are acquired by The Baloise Group—which sponsors the award—and donated to two European museums. Currently, the two museums are Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art in Luxembourg.
American artist Sam Pulitzer was named the other winner of this year’s award for “the precision, depth and virtuosity of the drawings presented in his installation for the exhibition booth.”
Crystal Wu is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.
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