M+, Hong Kong’s museum of twentieth-and twenty-first-century visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District, is pleased to announce the launch of the Sigg Prize, which recognises outstanding artistic practice in the Greater China region. This prize continues and expands the work the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA) has done over the past two decades.

The Sigg Prize evolved directly from the CCAA, established by Dr Uli Sigg in 1997 and chaired by Liu Li Anna since 2011. As the first award for contemporary art in the Mainland, the CCAA has been a leading force in steering Chinese art and artists to the world, helping to frame the international conversation on Chinese contemporary art. M+ has supported the work of the CCAA since 2012, when the Sigg Collection—the most substantial collection of Chinese contemporary art in the world—arrived at M+. A member of the M+ team has been on the jury since then. The CCAA is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year, and this is a critical moment for the award to move onto a greater global platform. To this end, the CCAA is becoming the Sigg Prize, a new M+ programme. The Sigg Prize is open to artists born or working in the Greater China region, with the intention to highlight and promote on an international scale the diverse and exciting artistic work and cultural dialogues taking place here.

A nominating committee composed of curators and art critics who have profound knowledge of art practices in the Greater China region will propose candidates for the consideration of the Sigg Prize jury. When making their selection, the jury will focus on each artist’s practice over the past two years, reinforcing the prize’s commitment to bringing the most current production to a wider international audience. There is no age requirement for artists to be nominated. Six artists selected by the jury will be invited to present their work in December 2019 in the Sigg Prize exhibition, curated by Dr Pi Li, Sigg Senior Curator at M+, and held at the M+ Pavilion in Hong Kong. During the exhibition, the winner of the Sigg Prize will be announced. A cash prize of HKD500,000 will be awarded to the winner, and HKD100,000 will be awarded to each of the other shortlisted artists to encourage their future practice.

Dr Sigg, the founder of the CCAA, emphasised the importance of the evolution of the prize: ‘I am delighted to witness this milestone achievement of the award and thrilled for the transition. My primary purposes in establishing the award were to give encouragement to artists with talent, to enhance awareness on the part of a largely uninterested Chinese public, and to bring prominent international professionals to the Chinese art scene. After twenty years, Anna Liu and I think it is time to move forward, to make the award accessible to more audiences and artists. I am looking forward to seeing the prize mature into being a global influencer.’

Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director of M+, commented on the connection between the prize and M+’s mission: ‘In the past two decades, the CCAA has made an undeniable contribution to Chinese contemporary art. We are pleased to grow the CCAA into an M+ programme and launch the Sigg Prize, with the ambition to establish it as the major art prize with an exhibition in this region. The Sigg Prize embodies M+’s remit as a multidisciplinary museum of twentieth- and twenty-first-century visual culture. The move strengthens the connection between the award and the M+ Sigg Collection, supporting M+ as a platform for both the recognition and the collection of contemporary art practice in the Greater China region. By introducing the prize to a wider international audience, M+ will play a pioneering role in shaping the history of contemporary art in this part of the world and in encouraging public interest in visual culture.’

The Sigg Critic Prize—formerly the CCAA Art Critic Award, established by Dr Sigg in 2007—will be organised by M+ every two years, starting in 2020.

Remarks

The co-chairwomen of the Sigg Prize:
Ms Suhanya Raffel (Executive Director, M+, Hong Kong)
Ms Liu Li Anna (President, CCAA, 2011 – 2018)

Members of the Sigg Prize jury

Ms Maria Balshaw CBE (Director, Tate, London)
Mr Bernard Blistène (Director, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris)
Ms Gong Yan (Director, Power Station of Art, Shanghai)
Ms Lai Hsiangling (Curator, Taipei)
Ms Suhanya Raffel (Executive Director, M+, Hong Kong)
Dr Uli Sigg (Founder of the Chinese Contemporary Art Award, Switzerland)
Mr Xu Bing (Artist, Beijing)

About Uli Sigg

Dr Uli Sigg was born in 1946 and grew up in Switzerland. He completed his studies with a PhD from the law faculty of the Universität Zürich. He then worked as a journalist and editor for various Swiss newspapers and magazines. From 1977 to 1990 he held positions at the Schindler Group as Area Manager for Asia Pacific and later as Member of the Group Executive Committee and Shareholders Board. In 1980, he established the first joint venture between China and the West and remained its Vice Chairman for ten years. He then served on the boards of a number of global companies until 1995, when the Swiss federal government appointed him ambassador to China, North Korea, and Mongolia for four years. Upon his return to Switzerland he again assumed the chairmanship or board membership of several multinational companies. Presently he also serves as Vice President of the Ringier Media Group and as member of the Advisory Board of China Development Bank and other Chinese entities. He is Honorary Director of China Foreign Investment Association, Beijing, and Founder and Honorary Member of the Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. As a collector of contemporary art, he has formed—with 2,400 works—the most substantial collection of Chinese contemporary art in the world. In 2012, he transferred over 1,500 works from his collection to M+ through a combination of donation and sale. In 1997, he established the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA), an art award for Chinese contemporary artists living in China, and, in 2007, he established the CCAA Art Critic Award. He is a member of the M+ Board; the M+ Acquisitions Committee; the International Council of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and the International Advisory Council of Tate, London.

About the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA)

The CCAA was founded in 1997 by Dr Uli Sigg, a leading collector of Chinese contemporary art, and chaired by Liu Li Anna since 2011. Established as an independent non-profit entity, the CCAA recognises Chinese artists and art critics who show outstanding achievement in the creation of art, and in its analysis and critique.

Granted every two years, the CCAA is an important presence in the Chinese art world, with its winners gaining significant international recognition. In addition to the Best Artist Award, the CCAA introduced the Best Young Artist Award in 2002 and the Contribution Award for lifetime achievement in 2004. Former CCAA winners include Gu Dexin (2004), Huang Yongping (2006), Ai Weiwei (2008), Zhang Peili (2010), Geng Jianyi (2012), Song Dong (2014), and Xu Bing (2016) for the Contribution Award; Zhou Tiehai (1998), Xiao Yu (2000), Yan Lei (2002), Xu Zhen (2004), Zheng Guogu (2006), Liu Wei (2008), Duan Jianyu (2010), Pak Sheung Chuen (2012), Kan Xuan (2014), and Cao Fei (2016) for Best Artist; and Sun Yuan and Peng Yu (2002), Song Tao (2004), Cao Fei (2006), Tseng Yu-Chin (2008), Sun Xun (2010), Yan Xing (2012), Ni Youyu (2014), and He Xiangyu (2016) for Best Young Artist.

The CCAA Art Critic Award was established in 2007. Past recipients of the award include Pauline J. Yao (2007), Wang Chunchen (2009), Zhu Zhu (2011), Dong Bingfen (2013), Yu Miao (2015), and Lu Mingjun (2017).

About M+

M+ is a museum dedicated to collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting visual art, design and architecture, moving image, and Hong Kong visual culture of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. In Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District, we are building one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary visual culture in the world, with a bold ambition to establish ourselves as one of the world’s leading cultural institutions. Our aim is to create a new kind of museum that reflects our unique time and place, a museum that builds on Hong Kong’s historic balance of the local and the international to define a distinctive and innovative voice for Asia’s twenty-first century.

About the West Kowloon Cultural District

Located on Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, the West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong. With a complex of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, and will provide 23 hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.