Pannaphan Yodmanee wins the Benesse Prize, while Singaporean artist Zulkifle Mahmod is awarded an inaugural special award.
The Thai artist won out of a shortlist of five East and Southeast Asian artists, while Singaporean artist Zulkifle Mahmod won the Soichiro Fukutake Prize launched with this edition of the Benesse Prize.
On 12 January 2017, Benesse Holdings, Inc. (Benesse) and Singapore Art Museum (SAM) announced the winner of the 11th Benesse Prize, selected from participating artists of the Singapore Biennale 2016. The award, presented for the first time in Asia, went to Thai artist Pannaphan Yodmanee, who will be commissioned to create a work to be exhibited at Benesse Art Site Naoshima, Japan, in addition to receiving a cash prize of JPY3,000,000 (including a visit to Benesse Art Site Naoshima) from Benesse.
The Benesse Prize has been awarded since 1995 at the Venice Biennale, and celebrates artists whose practices embody an “experimental and critical spirit”, and for their potential to develop a reflection around the theme of “Benesse” (Well-Being). The move back to Asia was strategically timed with the Singapore Biennale and is meant to reinforce the foundation’s relationship to the Asia region’s art scene and its support of regional artists.
Singaporean sound and media artist Zulkifle Mahmod (b. 1975) was also announced as the recipient of the Soichiro Fukutake Prize, a special award presented on the occasion of the inaugural Asian edition of the Benesse Prize. At the Singapore Biennale, the artist is showing a sound sculpture entitled SONICreflection (2016) that explores the micro-universes of Singapore, representing its multicultural character through sound.
Mr Soichiro Fukutake, Founder and President of Benesse Art Site Naoshima, commented in the press release on his decision to award Mahmod with a special prize, which entitles the artist to a visit to Naoshima and the neighbouring islands:
I was deeply impressed by this particular work, skillfully incorporating voices and sounds collected from Asian migrant communities in contemporary Singapore. It is contemplative, triggering sensorial and poetic reflections on various social territories and the human environment, as well as on our lives.
Yodmanee was selected out of a shortlist of five artists from East and Southeast Asia, comprising Martha Atienza (Philippines/ Netherlands), Bui Cong Khanh (Vietnam), Ade Darmawan (Indonesia) and Qiu Zhijie (China).
The jury composed of eminent professionals in the international art world praised the quality and diversity of the artistic discourses presented at Singapore Biennale 2016, as “a testimony to the vibrancy and depth of field of artistic production throughout the Asian continent”.
Yodmanee (b. 1988) created a site-specific installation entitled Aftermath (2016) for Singapore Biennale 2016, made of found objects, artist-made icons, concrete and paint, mapping the Buddhist cosmos. The work is a unified cartography that chronicles Southeast Asian history, investigating points of intersection between Buddhist cosmology and modern science. As quoted in the press release, Ms Akiko Miki, chair of the jury said of Yodmanee’s nomination:
Her painterly, sculptural and architectural work creates a unique, breathtaking landscape by mixing microscopic and macroscopic visions with Buddhist cosmology, traditional and modern techniques, and natural and artificial materials. We look forward to seeing how her critical sensibility could provide profound insights about human civilization, natural conditions, and spirituality in our contemporary age in the insular context of the Seto Inland Sea.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
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