Basel, June 13, 2017. The Baloise Art Prize has been awarded to Martha Atienza from the Philippines and Sam Pulitzer 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 Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin and the MUDAM, Luxembourg.
Martha Atienza’s video installation, "Our Island, 11°16`58.4" 123°45`07.0"E", shows a traditional procession from her native Philippines, which she alienates by placing it under water. We watch the procession passing by as if in an aquarium: Christ carrying the cross, men in women’s clothes and demonstrators carrying tableaux with political slogans, threatened from behind by menacing, armed henchman. Through her cast of characters and choice of setting, Atienza presents a both critical and humorous take not only on the state of society in the Philippines but also on the threat of climate change to which the country is increasingly exposed through the warming of the world’s oceans.
Sam Pulitzer has been awarded the Baloise Art Prize for the precision, depth and virtuosity of the drawings presented in his installation for the exhibition booth, where he adroitly exploits transparency and opacity in order to test the viability of his art. He additionally enquires into the function and meaning of the stream of new images, logos and labels with which we are confronted day after day, organizing or perverting our communication and relations with our fellow human beings. The truth of the matter is that they do, indeed, do both: they bring us closer together and keep us at bay, just as Pulitzer’s corridors impose closeness on us in tandem with isolation.
This year’s jury includes: Marie-Noëlle Farcy, Curator/Head of Collection, MUDAM, Luxembourg; Daniel Baumann, Director, Kunsthalle Zurich; Sven Beckstette, Curator, Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.; Zak Kyes, Zak Group, London and Martin Schwander, Fine Art Advisor of Baloise, Chairman of the jury.