The Guggenheim celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the Hugo Boss Prize this evening, hosting the bi-annual arts award gala last night in its iconic atrium space, and reflecting back on the string of nominees and winners over the past two decades, among them Matthew Barney, Paul Chan, and Lorna Simpson. This year, Anicka Yi became the latest artist to receive the prestigious honor, receiving the $100,000 prize and an exhibition at the museum this coming spring. Yi was nominated alongside Tania Bruguera, Mark Leckey, Ralph Lemon, Laura Owens, and Wael Shawky.
Yi, whose work has grown increasingly complex in its investigations of natural life cycles, nostalgia and narrative through a range of non-traditional materials, often including living organisms in the past years. Drawing on her own experiences in conjunction with strange assemblages of commonplace material, her sculptures and installations twist the body itself into abstracted and alien relations with both living and non-living agents, often underscoring connections between sensation, time and the human psyche. Of particular note was the artist’s recent retrospective at the Kunsthalle Basel, where a wide range of works offered intricate relations of the viewer to the space itself, and to the artist’s work, as well as her exhibition at The Kitchen, where the artist grew her own bacteria from autobiographical materials, filling the space with a potent scent that carried its own associations to Yi’s personal experiences, in exchange with her relations to the bacteria themselves.
“In selecting Anicka Yi as the winner from an exceptionally strong group of nominated artists, we wish to highlight the singularity of her vision and the generative new possibilities for artistic production offered by her practice, the jury (among them Nancy Spector, the former deputy director and chief curator of the Guggenheim, Elena Filipovic, the director and chief curator of the Kunsthalle Basel, and Katherine Brinson, a curator of contemporary art at the Guggenheim) offered in a statement. “We are particularly compelled by the way Yi’s sculptures and installations make public and strange, and thus newly addressable, our deeply subjective corporeal realities. We also admire the unique embrace of discomfort in her experiments with technology, science, and the plant and animal worlds, all of which push at the limits of perceptual experience in the ‘visual’ arts.”
She will present an exhibition at the museum this coming April.
— D. Creahan