Asia’s newest contemporary art prize promotes cultural exchange through its roaming format and international appeal.

The Multitude Art Prize, which aims to explore the role and relevance of contemporary art across Asia, will be held in a different Asian city each year. On 27 April 2013, an exhibition of work from the travelling award’s first five winners opened in Beijing, China, its first location.

Founder of the Multitude Art Prize Bill Condon (right) with Yao Jiu-chung, one of the 2013 prize recipients.

Founder of the Multitude Art Prize Bill Condon (right) with Yao Jui-chung, one of the 2013 prize recipients.

Established by the Multitude Foundation, a Hong Kong-based charitable trust, and the yet to open Wuhan Art Terminus (WH.A.T.), a contemporary art institution, the Multitude Art Prize carries total prize money of USD100,000 and will be presented to five Asian artists or collaboratives annually.

Drawing inspiration from the cultural transmission that took place along the ancient Silk Road, prize organisers have adopted a roaming platform and plan to take the art prize and accompanying exhibition to a new Asian city each year.

Alfredo & Isabel Aquilizan, 'Passage: Project Another Country', 2009, mixed media installation. Image courtesy the artists and Multitude Art Prize.

Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan, ‘Passage: Project Another Country’, 2009, mixed media installation. Image courtesy the artists and Multitude Art Prize.

On the Multitude Foundation website, prize Director Colin Chinnery explains the Foundation’s emphasis on an expansive view of Asia,

There cannot be a single understanding of Asia because each of its cultural regions is in constant political, cultural and economic flux. What does this state of flux mean for new cultural ideas that emerge, and how can different regions in Asia take inspiration from each other? As a cultural producer based in Asia, this is one of the most interesting questions one can explore. Consequently, the Multitude Art Prize has been established to provide an annual platform from which meaningful dialogue and unique exhibitions can be created, opening up new potential for artists and audiences alike.

Hailing from across the region, the five winners of the inaugural 2013 Multitude Art Prize reflected the Award’s pan-Asian perspective. Works by winners Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan from the Philippines, Ha Za Vu Zu from Turkey, Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho from Korea, the Raqs Media Collective from India and Yao Jui-chung from Taiwan are on display in the Multitude Art Prize exhibition at Beijing’s Ullen’s Centre for Contemporary Art (UCCA) from 27 April to 16 June 2013.

Moon Kyungwon & Jeon Joonho, 'El Fin del Mundo', 2012, still frm multi-channel video. Image courtesy the artists and Multitude Art Prize.

Moon Kyungwon and Jeon Joonho, ‘El Fin del Mundo’, 2012, still from multi-channel video. Image courtesy the artists and Multitude Art Prize.

The 2013 winners

Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan work between Manila and Brisbane, producing both collaborative and individual art works. A husband and wife team, they are known for their work with local communities on themes such as migration, alienation and change. Their installations and installation photography have featured at the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (1999/2009), Singapore Biennale (2008) and the Venice Biennale (2003), among others.

Jeon Joonho and Moon Kyungwon are two South Korean artists working together to produce video art, publications and installations which have shown at the Gwangju Biennale (2012), the Moscow Biennale (2010), and the Biennial of Graphic Arts Ljubljana (2010). Both based out of Seoul, they also work individually in new as well as traditional media.

Yao Jui-chung (Taipei) is a Taiwanese multimedia artist, curator and writer. His works are in permanent collections in the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, the Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Queensland Art Gallery, the Bibliothèque National de France and private collections. Yao also teaches in the Department of Fine Arts at the National Taiwan Normal University.

An artist collective based out of Istanbul, Ha Za Vu Zu work in installation, video, performance and other media to create socially informed projects and artworks. Their recent projects, many of which invite audience participation and critical interaction, have shown around Europe.

Raqs Media Collective is a New Delhi group formed over a decade ago and described by the Multitude Art Prize as “artists, curators, editors and catalysts of cultural processes”. Through installations and encounters the collective combine film with contemporary art. They have taken part in Documenta 11 (2002), the Venice Biennale and the Guangzhou Triennial.

Raqs Media Collective, installation view, Multitude Art Prize exhibition 2013.

Raqs Media Collective, installation view, Multitude Art Prize exhibition 2013.

Striving for international appeal

Hong Kong-based art entrepreneur Bill Condon, Chairman of the Multitude Foundation told the Irish Times that he hoped that the Asia-wide focus would not only help support a multitude of artists, but would also strengthen both the artists’ and award’s commercial appeal, saying, “We put together a very important international programme and we seem to have a hit a chord. Corporates see it as a really interesting pan-Asian platform.”

To shore up this international appeal, arts practitioners from institutions outside the region will be asked to collaborate in the Discourse Series, an annual conference that travels with the prize and exhibition across Asia. The 2013 Discourse Series took place on 28 April at UCCA and saw participants from L’Internationale, a network of European museums, discuss contemporary Asian art within a global context.


Related Topics: Asian artists, art awards, art prizes, art world trends – connecting Asia to itself, Beijing art events

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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