South Korean artist Haegue Yang has been named the winner of the 13th Benesse Prize, in an awards ceremony held at SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark on 15th October 2022, during the opening of the Singapore Biennale 2022 aka ‘Natasha’.
When receiving her bouquet and certificate, Yang was all smiles, as she spoke of her surprise at receiving the award, and recounted her story of how she has always been on a journey of finding affinity, having felt adrift for a long time after leaving her home of South Korea early on in life. Yang currently lives and works in Berlin and Seoul.
Yang was chosen as the winner from among 5 finalists by an international jury jointly appointed by Benesse Holdings Inc. and Singapore Art Museum, comprising prominent members of the global art scene, including Akiko Miki, International Artistic Director, Benesse Art Site Naoshima. Her win follows on from Singapore artist Amanda Heng, winner of the 12th Benesse Prize in 2019, who was also present at the ceremony.
The Benesse Prize was established in 1995 when Fukutake Publishing Co., Ltd. changed its corporate name to Benesse Corporation, and it was first awarded at the Venice Biennale in the same year. It was created to recognise the artistic endeavours of outstanding artists and support those who embody the corporate philosophy of the Benesse Group, which is ‘well-being’.
Since 2016, the Benesse Prize has been the official award of the Singapore Biennale, presented in collaboration with Singapore Art Museum. In addition to a cash prize of JPY 3 million, the winning artist(s) receives a commission to create an artwork to be exhibited at Benesse Art Site Naoshima, Japan, or the opportunity to have their works collected at the Site.
Haegue Yang is Professor of Fine Arts at the Staedelschule in
Frankfurt am Main. Yang’s practice spans a wide range of media, from
paper collage to performative sculpture and large-scale installations, often
featuring everyday objects, in addition to labor-intensive woven sculptures.
Articulated in an abstract visual vocabulary, her anthropomorphic
Intermediates sculptures often play with the notion of ‘the folk’ being a
cultural idea, while also attempting to transcend it as being a mere tradition
of specific cultures. Her multisensory environments made of venetian blinds
suggest uncontrollable and fleeting connotations of time, place, figures, and
experiences that connect us in this non-sharable field of perception.
Yang’s artwork The Hybrid Intermediates – Flourishing Electrophorus Duo (Sonic Intermediate – Hairy Carbonous Dweller and The Randing Intermediate – Furless Uncolored Dweller) (2022) is currently installed and exhibited as part of Singapore Biennale 2022, at Level 1 of SAM at Tanjong Pagar Distripark.
The artwork is a set of two sonic sculptures that are part of Haegue Yang’s larger series entitled, The Intermediates (2015-). Through the series, Yang explores the use of artificial straw weaving as a critical inquiry into the notion of folk as a conventional term to define identity and belonging as being something fixed and given in her works.
Equipped with handles, the sculptures are mounted on casters that can be operated for simple movements. While in movement, the bells that cover the sculptures rattle subtly and produce a metallic sound reminiscent of the sounds produced by bells used in rituals from various cultures (including Korean shamanism and European paganism), linking humans to the cosmos.
Singapore Biennale 2022 aka Natasha runs from 16th October 2022 to 19th March 2023. Tickets and more information available here
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