Benesse Prize Makes Asian Debut at Singapore Biennale 2016

Benesse Art Site on Naoshima Island

Singapore Art Museum and Benesse Holdings, Inc. announced their collaboration on the inaugural Asian edition of the Benesse Prize. Organised in conjunction with Singapore Biennale 2016 (SB2016), the 11th edition of Benesse Prize will award an outstanding SB2016 artist whose art practice embodies an experimental and critical spirit, and for his/her potential to develop a reflection around the theme of “Benesse” (Well-Being).

This will be the first time that the Benesse Prize, awarded at the Venice Biennale for the last ten editions, is presented in Asia. The winner will receive a commission to create a work to be exhibited at Benesse Art Site Naoshima and a cash prize of JPY 3,000,000 from Benesse. The shortlisted artists will be announced at the opening of the Singapore Biennale, and the award presentation will take place during Singapore Art Week 2017.

Established at the Venice Biennale in 1995, the Benesse Prize aims to recognise the artistic activities of an outstanding artist (or artist collective) while supporting the winner’s future artistic practice. Renowned Chinese artist Cai Guo Qiang was the first recipient of the Benesse Prize, and has subsequently realised a permanent site-specific work at Benesse Art Site Naoshima. Past Benesse Prize recipients also include Olafur Eliasson, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller and Rirkrit Tiravanija, to name a few. Cardiff and Miller unveiled their site-specific work Dreaming Naoshima in March 2016 in one of the guestrooms at the Benesse House hotel on Naoshima island, and the work of the 10th Benesse Prize winner Anri Sala, a site-specific installation in an old house by the sea will be shown from October 8th this year on Teshima island.

The 11th Benesse Prize is open to all artists whose artworks are being exhibited at SB2016. The prize seeks to recognise Asian artists, whose bodies of work demonstrate the potential to engage with some of the key underlying concepts explored at Benesse Art Site Naoshima. The idea of “Using what exists to create what is to be” lies at the core of the art site, implying that shortlisted artists should have the capacity to dialogue with the nature, history and culture of the region or envision alternatives to current societal trends, exploring the archipelago’s memories and narratives and participating in the revitalisation of the local communities through their artistic practices.

An international jury has been jointly appointed by SAM and Benesse to select the shortlisted artists of the 11th Benesse Prize. The final winner, to be announced in January 2017, will be chosen by Benesse Holdings and Fukutake Foundation.

The jury consists of (in alphabetical order):
• Luckana Kunavichayanont, Director, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
• Dr. Susie Lingham, Creative Director, Singapore Biennale 2016
• Akiko Miki, International Artistic Director, Benesse Art Site Naoshima; Co-Director, Yokohama Triennale 2017
• Fumio Nanjo, Director, Mori Art Museum
• Suhanya Raffel, Executive Director, M+

SB2016 will be anchored at the Singapore Art Museum on Bras Basah Road and Queen Street. Venues include Singapore Art Museum and 8Q at SAM, Asian Civilisations Museum, de Suantio Gallery at SMU, National Museum of Singapore, Stamford Green, The Old Parliament House, and The Peranakan Museum. Taking place from 27 October 2016 to 26 February 2017, the four-month long international contemporary art exhibition is organised by SAM and commissioned by the National Arts Council of Singapore.

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