The French-Algerian artist was announced as the winner of the Prix Marcel Duchamp 2016 on Tuesday, 18 October 2016 at Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Presented by ADIAF in partnership with Centre Pompidou, the Prix Marcel Duchamp honours a French artist or artist residing in France, who is representative of his or her generation, working in the field of the plastic and visual arts.
ADIAF brings together more than 400 art collectors “committed to raising the international profile of the French scene”. The organisation is led by private collectors, sponsored by art-patron companies and works in partnership with public institutions with the aim of raising the profile of the French art scene and develop contemporary art collecting. In 2000, ADIAF founded the Prix Marcel Duchamp, organised in partnership with the Centre Pompidou, with an award of EUR35,000.
Since 2005, the Prize is also run in collaboration with FIAC, who helps develop exposure to collectors locally and internationally. Now at its 16th edition, the Prize’s past laureates include among others Thomas Hirschhorn (2000), Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster (2002), Latifa Echakhch (2013) and Melik Ohanian (2015).
Paris- and Bandjoun-based Barthélémy Toguo‘s (b. 1967, Cameroon) installation is dedicated to two epidemics that plague the world, and particularly Africa: AIDS and Ebola. Realised in close collaboration with the scientific teams of the Pasteur Institute, it represents a clear example of the ties between art and science. The drawings and the monumental vases made in China were designed after microscope observation of infected cells and from data taken from scientific documents.
The virus is presented through a poetic vision, at times resembling self-portraits, as intimate appropriations of the scientific and political project. The vases, vessels that can contain liquid, symbolise an ambivalent relationship to water, purifying and regenerating as well as a source of contamination and pollution.
Toguo is a multimedia artist, who works in a range of media from watercolour and sculpture, to photography, film, performance and installation. Recently, he has turned his attention to the realm of the stage and the theatrical arrangement of space.
Prix Marcel Duchamp 2016: Art in dialogue, art as regenerative
This year’s Prix Marcel Duchamp realised its ambition of dedicating an exhibition at the Centre Pompidou to all four nominees instead of just the winner, giving voice and visibility to the artists in a communal space, where their oeuvre is in mutual dialogue. Quoted by the museum, winner Kader Attia explains this significance of this intent:
The 100 to 120 square metres we have each been given motivates us to emphasise the essential, the poetic, and to develop a precisely judged and intimate relationship with the viewer. A space in which we have no right to make mistakes, unless the mistake is part of the scenario, and in Art, everything is possible… Especially when it’s set in dialogue with other stories, with the other “libraries” represented by the other artists selected and by all those who make this museum such an essential agora of murmured conversation, of free speech!
The synergies generated present the viewer with contemporary art under the aspect of its raison d’être, as regenerative: the quest and uncertainty of artistic discovery. Art has to recover its complex, absolute, unexpected aspect, far from the annihilating cacophony of a world saturated with false desires and false certitudes.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
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