M+, Hong Kong’s museum of twentieth- and twenty-first-century visual culture in the West Kowloon Cultural District, announces Hong Kong–based artist Samson Young as the winner of the inaugural Sigg Prize. The jury was unanimously impressed by Young’s vivid, multifaceted approach to sound and performance, clearly articulated in his installation Muted Situations #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th, on view in the Sigg Prize 2019 exhibition alongside works by five other shortlisted artists at the M+ Pavilion until 17 May 2020. Young’s work presents an orchestral performance in which the musicians mute the notes they play, drawing the audience’s attention to sounds that often go unnoticed. 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 and presided over by Liu Li Anna from 2011 until 2018. A biennial award recognising important artistic practices in the Greater China region, the Sigg Prize is open to artists born or working in the region, with the intention to highlight and promote diverse and exciting work on an international scale. Young wins a cash prize of HK$500,000. HK$100,000 will be awarded to the five other shortlisted candidates.

The Sigg Prize jury comments: ‘Samson Young takes sound as source material, in an experimental practice rooted in his background in music composition. By muting the melody in an orchestral performance, he brings peripheral sounds to the fore. With an element of humour, Young prompts audiences to focus on what is often overlooked or ignored, and to question the essence of the music and the collective ambition. By silencing the dominant sound, the work mirrors elements of current political dynamics.’

Suhanya Raffel, Museum Director, M+, co-chairwoman of the Sigg Prize, describes the richness of the jury’s discussion: ‘We focused on the strengths of the works included in the Sigg Prize 2019 exhibition and spoke with each of the six shortlisted artists individually, following on conversations on their larger practices in the first jury meeting. The presentation of work by the shortlisted artists forms a compelling statement on the current landscape of contemporary art in the Greater China region. We are delighted to recognise Samson Young’s outstanding, sophisticated work. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to him, and my deep thanks to all the shortlisted artists.’

Beijing-based researcher Yang Zi is awarded the first Sigg Fellowship, formerly the CCAA Art Critic Prize, founded by Uli Sigg in 2007. The Sigg Fellowship for Chinese Art Research, awarded biennially, is designed to support new research on Chinese art, in dialogue with the M+ Collections. The inaugural fellowship with a grant of HK$200,000 will support Yang’s research into aspects of artists’ engagement with folk art—a range of practices related to non-elite culture and popular belief systems—in twentieth-century China. He will develop his project over the coming months and will deliver an essay as well as a public talk by the end of 2020.

The jury of the Sigg Fellowship recognised Yang Zi for his research proposal ‘Diffused Religion and the Origins of the 1980s Avant-Garde of China’. The jury was impressed by Yang’s thesis of how folklore consistently nurtured the growth of avant-garde art in twentieth-century China, commenting: ‘Yang Zi’s proposed project foregrounds aesthetics, traditions, and belief systems, highlighting developments in contemporary art in China that have been too easily overlooked. We believe that his work will open new lines of investigation into the M+ Sigg Collection and the M+ Collections as a whole and, more broadly, provide new ways of understanding and looking at Chinese contemporary art.’

Uli Sigg emphasises the Sigg Prize and Sigg Fellowship as essential developments in the recognition of contemporary practices and new research on Chinese art: ‘I am thrilled to see the inaugural editions of the prize and fellowship. With its global scope, the Sigg Prize expresses the transnational character of Chinese contemporary art and ensures that audiences around the world have the opportunity to encounter the work of artists from the Greater China region. Following on the work of the CCAA, the Sigg Prize defines a clear voice in the conversation on important current practices. The Sigg Fellowship is an experimental programme dedicated to new research, and is a vital continuation of the work of the CCAA Art Critic Award. I have no doubt that it will make a strong contribution to the art ecology of the region.’

The Sigg Prize and the Sigg Fellowship for Chinese Art Research
M+ established the Sigg Prize to place contemporary artistic practices from the Greater China region in a global context. The museum is committed to developing a new focus in the current conversation on visual culture, one that is cross-disciplinary, transnational, and centred on Asia. The prize is a major platform for this work, allowing M+ to trace connections and adjacencies in contemporary art with an emphasis that is now more important to articulate than ever before. The Sigg Fellowship for Chinese Art Research strengthens M+’s work to enrich research and debates on Chinese art, and to extend these discussions to participants and audiences both within and beyond the region. The prize and the fellowship define a close connection with the M+ Sigg Collection, a cornerstone of the M+ Collections and one of the most significant collections of Chinese contemporary art in the world.

Online announcement details

Date: 13 May 2020 (Wednesday)
Time: 3:00pm (Hong Kong Time, GMT+8)

YouTube: www.youtube.com/mplusmuseum
Facebook: www.facebook.com/mplusmuseum
Website: www.mplus.org.hk/siggprize2019winnerannouncement
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The online announcement of the inaugural Sigg Prize and the Sigg Fellowship for Chinese Art Research is sponsored by HUBLOT.


About 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, Korea, Seoul; as well as in Documenta Radio for Documenta 14. He received the BMW Art Journey Award in 2015 and the Hong Kong Arts Centre Honorary Fellowship in 2018. In 2017, he represented Hong Kong at the Venice Biennale with a solo exhibition co-organised by M+ and Hong Kong Arts Development Council.

About Yang Zi
Yang Zi received a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and religious studies from Nanjing University and is currently an independent curator. He has worked in art criticism and curating for nearly ten years. From 2012 to 2014, he was an editor of LEAP, and he has written extensively for a range of publications, including Artforum China, Art Bank, Art Time, and LEAP. In 2015, after joining the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA), he acted as executive editor on a series of catalogues for Wang Yin, Liu Wei, Xu Zhen, and Zeng Fanzhi and curated exhibitions and public programmes. In 2018, he became a curator and the head of public programmes at UCCA. His curatorial projects include La Chair, Secret Chamber, Pity Party, Land of the Lustrous, In Younger Days, and solo exhibitions of Zhao Bandi, Xie Nanxing, Wu Wei, Jiang Cheng, Xie Yi, Gao Yuan, Cai Zeibin, Chang Yunhan, Yang Luzi, Yu Honglei, Zhu Changquan, and 3d groups. He was a finalist for the Hyundai Blue Prize in 2017, and in 2019 he was one of the primary judges of the Huayu Youth Award.

About the Jury of the Sigg Prize 2019
For the inaugural edition of the Sigg 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).

About the Jury of the Sigg Fellowship for Chinese Art Research 2020
The members of the jury for the inaugural Sigg Fellowship for Chinese Art Research are Geremie R. Barmé (historian and Sinologist, Wellington), Pi Li (Sigg Senior Curator, Visual Art, M+, Hong Kong), and Pauline J. Yao (Lead Curator, Visual Art, M+, Hong Kong).

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.