Timelapse of the installation of an immersive bamboo structure, similar to bamboo scaffolding, built on and around the outdoor area of the M+ Pavilion.

First Look: Sigg Prize 2019 Exhibition at the M+ Pavilion

Sigg Prize 2019 Exhibition is the newest exhibition in the M+ Pavilion, on view from 7 December 2019 to 13 April 2020. Here’s a round-up of what you need to know:

What is the Sigg Prize?

Installation artwork consisting of abstract, triangular forms created out of steel bars and torn silk in shades of beige and brown. A block of wood leans against one of the structures. Thin metal poles with wooden bases are also interspersed. On top of the thin metal poles are small pedestals carrying small objects.

Hu Xiaoyuan, Spheres of Doubt, 2019. Steel bar, marble, wood, raw silk, wooden stick, sea water–eroded limestone, glass cup, body soap, castiron scale, brick, cement, bird’s nest, and passion fruit. Commissioned by M+, Hong Kong. Installation view, 2019. Image: Winnie Yeung@iMAGE28. Courtesy of M+, Hong Kong

The Sigg Prize is a biennial award that recognises outstanding practices of artists born or working in the Greater China region. The prize is a platform to highlight and promote on a global scale the important artistic practices and discussions taking place here. For this inaugural edition, an international jury has nominated six artists to participate in the Sigg Prize 2019 exhibition before the winner is announced in March 2020.

The Sigg Prize was formerly the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA), founded by Uli Sigg in 1998 to recognise contemporary art in mainland China. It was the first award of its kind and a leading force in helping to frame the international conversation about Chinese contemporary art. The CCAA became the Sigg Prize, established by M+, in 2018.

Video still showing a man dressed in white walking down a street on a pair of metal stilts that wrap around his calves and finish in black flat bases.

Lin Yilin, Typhoon, 2019. Single-channel video (colour, sound). Commissioned by M+, Hong Kong. Courtesy of the artist

Who are the nominated artists?

Six people stand in a row in a room in front of a white wall. To their left is a wall-mounted screen displaying the words ‘Sigg Prize 2019 presented by M+’ on a blue background.

The six nominated artists. From left to right: Samson Young, Tao Hui, Lin Yilin, Hu Xiaoyuan, Liang Shuo, Shen Xin. Courtesy of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority

Six artists have been nominated for the Sigg Prize:

Hu Xiaoyuan: In a subtle, sophisticated practice, Hu Xiaoyuan prompts viewers to re-examine the nature of materials and their metamorphosis over time to access the reality that exists behind their appearances. She works with xiao, a type of raw silk with a long history in Chinese culture, and has extended her approach further into installations in recent years.

Liang Shuo: Liang Shuo’s installations and sculptures demonstrate his skill in transforming space and articulating an experimental reading of Chinese tradition. He analyses visual elements in daily life and seamlessly toggles between different levels of cultural awareness.

Lin Yilin: In recent years, performance artist Lin Yilin has expanded the scope of his practice to encompass virtual reality technology. His acts of confrontation—restrained, eloquent, and often humorous—interrogate contemporary political and cultural systems.

Shen Xin: Shen Xin tackles urgent topics and sensitive questions relating to identity, gender, religion, and social ethics through fictional documentary. Their critical, nuanced works reveal the uncertainty of interpersonal relations and the complexity of political narratives within dominant power structures.

Tao Hui: Tao Hui works primarily in moving image. He addresses subjects of popular culture, mass media, and performative expressions of ordinary people as a means of exploring sensitive emotions and complex relationships in a rapidly urbanising China. He accentuates the narrative structures of his films by rigorously developing scripts and following them through production.

Samson Young: Samson Young draws from his formal training in music composition in his multidisciplinary art practice. His installations and sound works—which also have a strong visual component—dissect layers of cultural significance, proposing alternative ways to understand and communicate social, philosophical, and political questions in cross-cultural contexts.

How will the winner be decided?

Video still depicting two people sitting on a black stage, looking towards the viewer's right. The figure on the right is dressed in a dark grey dress and the figure on the left is dressed in a long light blue dress with an orange shawl wrapped around their shoulders.

Shen Xin, Provocation of the Nightingale, 2017. Four-channel video installation (colour, sound), 53 min. M+, Hong Kong. Gift of Wang Bing, 2018

For each edition of the prize, a jury comprising leading international art professionals selects six artists based on their past two years of work. The shortlisted artists are invited to participate in the Sigg Prize exhibition before the winner is determined. The artists choose which works they want to display in this exhibition. The jury then decides on a winner based on the selected works.

The Sigg Prize 2019 jury consists of: Maria Balshaw, director, Tate; Bernard Blistène, director, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou; Gong Yan, director, Power Station of Art; Lai Hsiangling, curator; Uli Sigg, prize namesake, collector, and M+ board member; Xu Bing, artist; and Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+.

The winner is awarded HKD 500,000, and each of the other shortlisted artists receives HKD 100,000.

Are there any talks, tours, or other events accompanying the exhibition?

Video installation consisting of a room with a large screen with a video depicting an orchestra conductor on one end of the room. Numerous small hexagonal objects are spread throughout the room in rows.

Samson Young, Muted Situations #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th, 2018. HD video, eight-channel sound installation, and carpet. Courtesy of the artist. Installation view, 2019. Image: Winnie Yeung @ iMAGE28. Courtesy of M+, Hong Kong

Programmes accompanying the exhibition include an M+ Live Art performance, an M+ Screenings programme, conversations with the artists, teachers’ private viewings, and a series of thematic and curator-led tours. Access services can be arranged in advance.

A selection of products inspired by the work of the six artists is offered at the M+ Shop, as an extension of the concepts presented in the exhibition.

Share your reflections!

Video still in which a person dressed in a white dress shirt and black bow tie leans over a coffee shop bar from behind the counter, wiping it with a rag. They hold a phone to the ear with their other hand.

Tao Hui, Hello, finale!, 2017. HD video installation, colour, sound, 40 min, Courtesy of the artist, Kyoto Art Center, Rockbund Art Museum, and Luxelakes·A4 Art Museum

There will be a visitor response station at the end of the exhibition, where you will be able to share your answer to the question: ‘What did these works make you think about today?’ All of the answers will then be collected by our team, with some responses shared online. We hope that this will inspire discussion around the art and encourage visitors to creatively reflect on the time and place they live in, just like the artists do.

Enjoy the exhibition!

Video at top of post: Timelapse of the installation of Liang Shuo’s In the Peak. Liang Shuo, In the Peak, 2019. Bamboo, plastic mesh, and artificial branches. Commissioned by M+, Hong Kong.

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