M+, Hong Kong’s museum of twentieth- and twenty-first-century visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District, is pleased to announce the six artists shortlisted for the inaugural Sigg Prize, which recognises outstanding artistic practice in the Greater China region.

The six selected artists are: Hu Xiaoyuan (born 1977, lives and works in Beijing), Liang Shuo (born 1976, lives and works in Beijing), Lin Yilin (born 1964, lives and works in New York), Shen Xin (born 1990, lives and works in London), Tao Hui (born 1987, lives and works in Shanghai), and Samson Young (born 1979, lives and works in Hong Kong). Each has articulated a distinguished artistic language over the past two years to address topics including cross-cultural relationships, identity, aesthetic value, and materiality that defy easy categorisation.

The Sigg Prize, established by M+ in Hong Kong in 2018, was formerly the Chinese Contemporary Art Award (CCAA), founded by Uli Sigg in China in 1998. The CCAA was the first award for contemporary art in mainland China, and it was a leading force in steering Chinese art and artists to the world, helping to frame the international conversation on Chinese contemporary art. The CCAA was granted to twenty-five artists or artist groups and nine art critics over its history. Following twenty years of activity, the CCAA has become the Sigg Prize, a new M+ programme.

The six shortlisted artists will be invited to present works from the past two years in the Sigg Prize exhibition, which will be held at the M+ Pavilion, West Kowloon Cultural District, between 6 December 2019 and 13 April 2020 and will be curated by Pi Li, Sigg Senior Curator, Visual Art, M+. During the exhibition, members of the Sigg Prize jury will gather to select the winner based on the exhibition presentation. A cash prize of HK$500,000 will be awarded to the winner, and HK$100,000 will be awarded to each of the other shortlisted artists to encourage their future practice. The final result will be announced in January 2020.

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. The shortlisted artists were selected by an international jury. For this inaugural edition of the prize, co-chaired by Suhanya Raffel and Liu Li Anna, the members of the jury are: Maria Balshaw (Director, Tate, United Kingdom), Bernard Blistène (Director, Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris), Gong Yan (Director, Power Station of Art, Shanghai), Lai Hsiangling (Curator, Taipei), Suhanya Raffel (Museum Director, M+, Hong Kong), Uli Sigg (collector and member of the M+ Board, Switzerland), and Xu Bing (Artist, Beijing). In making their selection, the jury affirmed the prize’s commitment to bringing the most current work from the Greater China region to a wider international audience.

The international jury reviewed the work of thirty-one artists proposed by five nominators, with an eye to innovative practices that demonstrate a strong, sustainable development. The jury’s discussions focused on contemporary situations and social issues, especially in relation to the individual in a society that is transforming in a global context, and the ways in which forms of expression derived from various language systems, mediums, and approaches reflect traditions and thinking across cultures. Ultimately, the jury recognised six artists whose practices are experimental and deeply resonant in contemporary contexts. All six embrace many locations in their work, clearly articulating the transnational character of Chinese contemporary art practice and corresponding with the ambition of the Sigg Prize as a global platform.

Commenting on the shortlisted artists, the international jury identified strong developments in each body of work.

Hu Xiaoyuan: In a subtle, sophisticated practice interworven with a consideration of everyday experiences, Hu Xiaoyuan prompts viewers to re-examine the nature of materials and relationships. She works in silk painting and sculpture, and has extended her approach further into three dimensions in recent years, defining a new vocabulary for her continued investigations.

Liang Shuo: Liang Shuo’s creations demonstrate his skill in transforming space and articulating an experimental reading of Chinese tradition. In his unique creative system, he analyses visual elements in daily life and seamlessly toggles between levels of cultural awareness.

Lin Yilin: In recent years, Lin Yilin has expanded the scope of his practice to encompass virtual reality technology while continuing his focused exploration of social dynamics through the body and performance. His acts of confrontation—simultaneously restrained and eloquent, and often humorous—reveal the violence within contemporary political and cultural systems.

Shen Xin: In her powerful, ambitious practice, Shen Xin tackles urgent topics and sensitive questions relating to identity, gender, religon, social ethics, and the art system through the form of fictional documentary. Her critical, nuanced narratives are deeply revelatory and always challenging.

Tao Hui: Expanding his career-long engagement with the body, Tao Hui has in recent years focused on developing and refining his video installations, which address emotions and relationships in precise ways. His meticulously orchestrated narratives encompass contemporary cross-cultural currents.

Samson Young: Samson Young draws from his formal training in music composition to define a profoundly experimental art practice. His installations and sound works—which also have a strong visual component and are often interactive—dissect layers of cultural significance, proposing alternative ways to understand and communicate.

Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, and Co-chairwoman of the Sigg Prize, emphasises the importance of the selection in this inaugural edition of the prize: ‘In identifying these six shortlisted artists, the jury has defined the Sigg Prize as an experimental platform. The prize articulates a close relationship with the M+ Sigg Collection—arguably the most significant collection of Chinese contemporary art in the world—and a dialogue between recent history and current practice. By bringing the prize to Hong Kong and presenting it to a wide audience, M+ strengthens connections within the Greater China region and encourages public interest in and discussion of visual culture.’

Uli Sigg, collector and member of the M+ Board, notes the jury’s work to identify important developments in contemporary art production in the Greater China region: ‘To select the final six artists, we experienced heated discussions among members of the jury and nominators. The shortlist comprises a multigenerational group of artists, and each has a strong, distinctive voice in the global conversation on contemporary art. It is always a valuable opportunity for me to debate the latest practices that encapsulate dynamism in this part of the world.’

Liu Li Anna, Co-chairwoman of the Sigg Prize, expresses her enthusiasm for the evolution of the prize: ‘I am excited to see the prize develop, to become a strong global platform for contemporary art in this region. I am delighted with the selection of these six artists and look forward to the inaugural Sigg Prize exhibition at the M+ Pavilion in Hong Kong in December.’

Remarks

About the shortlisted artists

Hu Xiaoyuan
Hu Xiaoyuan was born in Harbin and studied Communication Design at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, graduating in 2002. Her practice encompasses installation, video, sculpture, and painting, often drawing from specific experiences to address abstract topics related to time, space, consciousness, and existence. In 2007, she became the first female Chinese artist to participate in Documenta. She also participated in the New Museum Triennial in 2012 and the Taipei Biennial in 2014. Her work has been exhibited extensively both in China and internationally, including at the Palais de Tokyo, Paris; the Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm; Kunsthaus Graz; the Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California; the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; the Rockbund Art Museum, Shanghai; the Shanghai Minsheng Art Museum; the Power Station of Art, Shanghai; the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Video Bureau, Beijing; Beijing Commune; and Pace Gallery, Beijing. Her work has been collected by M+, the Rockbund Art Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Power Station of Art, and other institutions.

Liang Shuo
Liang Shuo was born in 1976 and graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing, in 2000, majoring in Sculpture. From 2002 to 2007, he taught sculpture at the Academy of Arts and Design, Tsinghua University. Between 2005 and 2006, he was an artist-in-residence at the Koninklijke Academie van Beeldende Kunsten (the Royal Academy of Art), The Hague. In 2009, he began teaching sculpture at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. In a practice that brings together a range of materials and found objects, Liang defines an approach characterised by what he terms ‘scum’: roughness, a reliance on processes of construction and destruction, and an interest in everyday objects. His work has been presented at major museums around the world, including the National Art Museum of China, Beijing; the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; the Singapore Art Museum; the Power Station of Art, Shanghai; the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; and the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam. His solo exhibition DISTANT tantamount MOUNTAIN was held at the Staatliche Kunsthalle Baden-Baden in 2017.

Lin Yilin
Lin Yilin was born in Guangzhou and lives and works in New York. He co-founded the influential artist collective the Big-Tail Elephant Group in Guangzhou in 1990. Lin participated in the exhibition Cities on the Move in 1997, as well as the Johannesburg Biennale in 1997, the Taipei Biennial in 1998, the Gwangju Biennale in 2002, the Venice Biennale in 2003 and 2015, Documenta in 2007, La Biennale de Lyon in 2009, the Swiss Sculpture Exhibition in 2014, and the Havana Biennial in 2015. His work has been exhibited at Kunsthalle Bern, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, MoMA PS1, Asia Society Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Hayward Gallery, M+, and MAXXI. Lin’s conceptual practice brings together sculpture, installation, photography, actions and performances, and video, commingling social architecture with everyday life.

Shen Xin
Shen Xin lives and works in London and Amsterdam. Through films and video installations, as well as performative events, Shen’s practice examines and fabricates techniques and effects of how emotion, judgment, and ethics circulate through individual and collective subjects. By focusing on interpersonal complexity and political narratives, her films often aim to generate reflexiveness to dismantle dominant power structures. Her recent solo presentations include To Satiate at MadeIn Gallery, Shanghai (2019); Methods of Inhabiting at K11 Shanghai (2018); Sliced Units at the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester (2018); half-sung, half spoken at the Serpentine Pavilion, London (2017); and At Home at Surplus Space, Wuhan, China (2016). Recent group exhibitions include New Metallurgists at the Julia Stoschek Collection, Düsseldorf (2018); Songs for Sabotage at the New Museum Triennial, New York (2018); and The New Normal at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2017). Shen was awarded the BALTIC Artists’ Award in 2017, and she is currently an artist in residence at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam.

Tao Hui
Tao Hui was born in Yunyang, Chongqing. He graduated from the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Oil Painting in 2010 and currently lives and works in Beijing. His work incorporates folk culture and traditional art forms into painting, video, and graphic works. He uses technological procedures and elements from traditional Chinese culture to question globalisation, virtual relationships, and hegemonic thinking. He received the award of the Contemporary Art Archive of the Sichuan Fine Arts Institute in 2008, the Huayu Youth Award (Art Sanya) in 2015, and the Grand Prize at the Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil in 2015. His solo exhibitions include Rhythm and Senses (Edouard Malingue Gallery, Hong Kong, 2019); Tao Hui (The Breeder, Athens, 2018); Not at All (OCAT Xi’an, 2017); New Direction: Tao Hui (Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing); and 1 Character & 7 Materials (AIKE-DELLARCO, Shanghai, 2015). Tao’s work was included in the Bangkok Art Biennale (2018), How Little You Know About Me (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, 2018), the Guangzhou Image Triennial (2017), the Shanghai Biennale (2016), and Bentu: Chinese Artists at a Time of Turbulence and Transformation (Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, 2016).

Samson Young
Multidisciplinary artist Samson Young was trained as a composer and graduated with a PhD in Music Composition from Princeton University in 2013. His academic background in music has led him to incorporate elements of experimental music, sound studies, and site-specific performance into his art practice. He uses sound as a tool, cutting through the veil of the everyday to uncover ideologies and political propositions. Solo exhibitions of his work have been held at the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf, the Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art in Manchester, M+, the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art, and elsewhere. His work has also been included in group exhibitions at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; the Biennale of Sydney; the Shanghai Biennale; the National Museum of Art, Osaka; and the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul; as well as in Documenta Radio for Documenta 14. He received the BMW Art Journey Award in 2015 and the Hong Kong Art Center Honorary Fellowship in 2018. In 2017, he represented Hong Kong at the Venice Biennale with a solo exhibition.

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
The West Kowloon Cultural District is one of the largest and most ambitious cultural projects in the world. Its vision is to create a vibrant new cultural quarter for Hong Kong on forty hectares of reclaimed land located alongside Victoria Harbour. With a varied mix of theatres, performance spaces, and museums, the West Kowloon Cultural District will produce and host world-class exhibitions, performances, and cultural events, providing twenty-three hectares of public open space, including a two-kilometre waterfront promenade.