Whitechapel Gallery Announces Max Mara Art Prize for Women Shortlist

Whitechapel Gallery

The Whitechapel Gallery and Max Mara have announced today the five artists shortlisted for the fifth Max Mara Art Prize For Women. The shortlisted artists are Beatrice Gibson, Melanie Gilligan, Judith Goddard, Philomene Pirecki and Corin Sworn. The artists were selected for the Prize by a judging panel chaired by Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director of the Whitechapel Gallery.

The panel included Pilar Corrias, Director of Pilar Corrias Gallery, London; Candida Gertler, Founder and Director, Outset Contemporary Art Fund; Runa Islam, artist and Lisa Le Feuvre, Writer, Curator and Head of Sculpture Studies, Henry Moore Institute.

This year’s shortlisted artists work across various media including installation, painting, writing, performance, film and music.

The Max Mara Art Prize for Women was established by the Whitechapel Gallery in collaboration with Max Mara in 2005 to promote and nurture female artists and is the only visual art prize for women in the United Kingdom. The Prize is open to artists working across any medium who have not previously had a solo survey exhibition and are based in the UK. The winning artist is awarded a six-month Italian residency and the time and space to produce new work in an inspirational environment, followed by major solo exhibitions at both the Whitechapel Gallery in London and Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Following a presentation from each of the shortlisted artists on their proposal for the residency, the winner will be announced in early 2014.

Iwona Blazwick OBE said; ‘The Max Mara Art Prize for Women continues our long tradition of premiering female artists. Our alumni includes Barbara Hepworth, Frida Kahlo, Eva Hesse, Nan Goldin and Cindy Sherman and it is fantastic to be able to offer this unique opportunity to women working in the UK today. We cannot wait to see what the current shortlist present for their proposals for this year’s Prize.’

The Maramotti family, owners of the Max Mara Fashion Group, are pre-eminent contemporary art collectors. The Max Mara Art Prize for Women is the first time the fashion house has established an arts prize in the UK and reflects the company’s strong association with art and women.

The Max Mara Art Prize for Women 2013-15 shortlisted artists are:

Beatrice Gibson  
Gibson is an artist and filmmaker based in London. Her work explores the relationship between music-making and film, particularly experimental music notation. An example of her recent work is The Tiger’s Mind (2012), an abstract crime thriller based on an improvisational score by the radical British composer Cornelius Cardew in which the six characters, the props, the soundtrack, the special effects, the narrator and the author battle one another for control of the film as it unfolds on screen. The film, which was co-commissioned by The Showroom, London and CAC Bretigny, won the Tiger Award for Best Short Film at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2013.

Melanie Gilligan
Gilligan is based in London and New York. In her video work and performances she creates dramatic narratives which explore the cultural, political and economic shifts that shape our lives. Examples of her work include the three episodic video series she made from 2008-2010, which examined the economic crisis and its implications.  The series included Popular Unrest (2010), a science fiction drama about a future shaped by convergence of capital and the ‘big data’ mined from billions of people every day. In her most recent work The Common Sense she investigates ideas of collectivity by envisaging the effects of a newly invented technology.

Judith Goddard
Goddard lives and works in London. She is a pioneering video and moving image artist whose practice spans three decades. Examples of her work range from the visually complex and highly constructed Garden of Earthly Delights (1991), a video triptych in the spirit of Hieronymus Bosch offering a surreal view of life in the 1990s, to the deceptively simple video cross coll (2012), which focuses on the cross wire in fencing, targeting the landscape in time and conveying proximity and distance. The work addresses what are for Goddard, enduring questions about visual and conceptual perception.

Philomene Pirecki
London-based Pirecki works across painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, projected image and language. Her work addresses memory, time, perception, and their representations. Pirecki often references her existing works, considering how they can adapt and respond to new conditions and change over time. Recent work includes her Dublin exhibition Frame, Fold, Fracture which featured photos which were periodically re-photographed to generate new and different versions, carbon copy drawings mailed to and from the gallery, and mixed-media wall installations developed out of exaggerated interpretations of the colour white.

Corin Sworn
Glasgow-based Sworn creates films and installations exploring the way objects can circulate stories and histories. Her works are often created through a complex mesh of fragmented references and purported memories. An example of her work is The Foxes (2012), recently exhibited at the 55th Venice Biennale, which re-examines a collection of slides taken in 1973 by social anthropologist Gavin A. Smith during his fieldwork in a highland village in Peru. While touching on Smith’s original work on Peruvian land reform and tactics of peasant rebellion, Sworn’s installation focussed on the legibility of photographs and how they are narrated though collective discussion.

Previous winners of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women are Laure Prouvost (2011-13), Andrea Büttner (2009-11), Hannah Rickards (2007-09) and Margaret Salmon (2005-07).

For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Frida Kahlo to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Walid Raad. The Gallery is a touchstone for modern and contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter.

Photo: Previous winner Max Mara Art Prize for Women: Laure Prouvost