Hiscox Art Award

Ceci n’est pas une exposition de groupe – This is not a group exhibition

The difficulty to define the term contemporary art stems from the variety of art practices we encounter today in the contemporary art scene. How, then, are we able to provide sustainable structures or platforms to identify, determine, evaluate, characterize, or even criticize contemporary works of art using diverse yet distinct media, interests and contents? Moreover, how would it be possible to connect different art practices in one exhibition without having to refer to or relay an external theme or subject?

The Hiscox Art Award is an exhibition that aims to promote the innovative practices of five outstanding and inspiring young artists who are contributing to a central dialogue in the Dutch art world regarding the position of the artist within the art system. Having previously collaborated as a curatorial team on the exhibition project Volume, we were invited to scout artists from major art institutions and academies in the Netherlands. During the selection process, the total practice of an artist and the processes through which he or she develops a work became the determining factors. As a result of our search for artists who have reached the end of their art education programme, we nominated five – each working in their own particular manner or discipline. Despite their differences, the artists are connected by how they confront the viewer’s and their own mechanisms of perception and expectation.

However, the Hiscox Art Award is not a group exhibition in the traditional sense of the term. Usually, the phrase “group show” indicates a number of artists whose works are linked by a concept related to a particular theme or in some cases by medium. Working within the context of an art award posed its own set of starting points that conceptually challenged us as the curators to mold an exhibition format that would support five different art practices in the space of Amsterdam’s Arti et Amicitiae. It would be closer to the truth to say that the Hiscox Art Award is five juxtaposed solo exhibitions – five platforms that aim to capture the essence of an individual artist’s practice.

Marjolijn Dijkman (The Netherlands, 1978) lives and works in Rotterdam and is currently a researcher in Fine Art at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. She develops works in an on-site manner, taking as her point of departure the space, spatial characteristics or aspects of the context as the content of her work. In this way, Dijkman locates problematic points in the use of public space, managing to provoke and activate local population and officials to re-think discriminatory policies practiced through these particular uses of the public space. One of the important questions Dijkman poses through her work in this exhibition is: What are the ways of documenting, archiving and understanding site-specific works when taken out of their original context?

Meiro Koizumi (Japan, 1976) lives and works in Amsterdam and is currently a resident artist at the Rijksakademie. Koizumi approaches the medium of video with an acute sensitivity that is reflected in his works’ highly controlled structures of time and narrative. The content, often ebullient with overt references to sex and violence, is eclipsed by farce and elements of the absurd, whose Charybdis of chaos creates a two-fold ambiance of the sinister and the surreal. The final question Koizumi’s works pose is: Are the possibilities of liberating the human body from the oppression and limitations established by the still dominant warrior and patriarchal logic.

Lucia Macari (Moldova, 1974) lives and works in Amsterdam and is currently participating in the Master’s programme in Fine Art at the Sandberg Institute in Amsterdam. Macari employs and synthesizes various media in the visual arts, including music, literature, cinematography and theater, in order to experiment with the emotional and physical involvement of the artist with his or her work. In collaboration with the composer and musician D. Riba, Macari formed the group Kinematix, whose most recent project, Hip hop on bones, incorporates a performance and installation dealing with a traumatic event in the life of Macari prior to her leaving her native country of Moldova. Through this visual theatre of the absurd, Macari brings her own trauma and works it through on a new level, where the personal again becomes political.

Falke Pisano (The Netherlands, 1978) lives and works in Amsterdam and is currently a researcher in Fine Art at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht. Pisano’s work focuses primarily on the possibilities and problems in the speculative field of language and her desire to be a sculptor prompted her examination of abstract sculptures. Her projects manifest themselves in the form of lectures or printed texts in which the conditions are set for sculptures that do not exist except in her painstaking research and the formulations of her thought process through drawings, images and texts. Through this play with texts and images, Pisano also refers to questions about the mechanisms of creating the official versions of art history through different narratives of interpretation.

Mu Yuming (China, 1971) lives and works in Amsterdam and is currently a resident at the Rijksakademie. Working under the name Farmer Mu, Yuming uses readily available materials and media to craft narratives from his immediate environment and transform them into expressions of freedom that intermix with the drama of his personal life. Through his new project entitled “20 Days”, he invites a core group of people to participate in a new activity for twenty days and aims to complete the project in twenty different countries as a way to redefine the borders between art and the term “everyday life.”

The spatial materialization of these five different artists’ practices in the shape of an exhibition will have its final test before an international jury derived from various perspectives on the state of contemporary art in both the Netherlands and abroad. Robert Hiscox, Sam Ainsley, Domeniek Ruyters, Ellen de Bruijne, and Maarten de Reus will discuss in a public forum the nominated artists and their works in order to situate them within broader context of contemporary arts and award one with the support to pursue further his or her artistic endeavors. From our perspective as curators, we sympathize with the difficult task of the jury to award a primus inter pares, because for us, there are no winners or losers but five artists attempting to expand the definitive limits of contemporary art practices.

Megan Bardoe,
José Miguel Biscaya,
Fatima Zohra Harhour,
Vesna Madzoski and
Anja Masling