Our Favourite Nominees For The 2016 Swiss Art Awards

Opening on the 13th June, the Swiss Art Awards will be held in Basel with an exhibition of the selected participants running from the 14th to the 19th of June. The award coincides with the announcement of the awardees of the Prix Meret Oppenheim 2016. The Swiss Art Awards are a part of Switzerland’s most revered competition, and one of the oldest: the Schweizer Kunstwettbewerb (Swiss Art Competition), which is put together by the Swiss Federal Office for Culture.

Originating in 1899, the prize annually selects and presents current art works from the Swiss contemporary art scene, providing a survey of the most diverse and exciting works of art and architecture currently.

Although the artists selected for the prize are building on a practices across a variety of media, approaches and differing themes, each artist has explored this year’s topic of Migration through questioning surroundings and every-day processes.

Here is a selection of my favourite artists from the shortlist:

Florian Graf

Florian Graf is an artist from Basel, living and working with interdisciplinary media installations across public spaces and in the gallery setting; utilizing sculpture, propositional objects, photo collage, drawings and film to engage with and analyse the social and physical situations around us.

Engaged with understanding what it means to be a human and investigating the ways in which collective and imaginative thought can be used to build on physical situations, Graf has created a number of installations that highlight and interrogate these relationships. For Project for the Abbey of Bellelay, 2011, Graf transformed the Abbey of Bellelay into his own home and studio, building a 12 metre high geometric sculpture within the entrance. Be, leave, picture below, is a part of Project for the Abbey of Bellelay. This both disrupted the Baroque architecture whilst aiming to act as a ‘support system’ within the church. In other areas of the church, Graf transformed the spaces into an arena in which found objects and furniture were interspersed with the artist’s imagery and sculptures. 

Florian Graf, Be, Leave 2011 (exhibition view Well, Come), 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.
Florian Graf, Be, Leave 2011 (exhibition view Well, Come), 2011. Image courtesy of the artist.

Nadine Olonetzky

Nadine Olonetzky is an author, editor and cultural journalist working in Zurich. Olonetzky has worked on a number of photo book projects including co-editing and writing texts for Meinrad Schade – Krieg ohne Krieg (War Without War), a publication of Soviet Union photography, which was recently awarded the German Photobook Prize 2016.

Olonetzky describes her work as following a recurring theme – harnessing the fragments of reality captured in photography to form a series of narratives. Each image exists as a multi-layered moment, collectively reflecting our lives back at us. Entering the Swiss Art Awards with a number of photo books, Olonetzky’s practice acts as a multi-faceted and overarching photographic survey of varying and fascinating pockets of society.

Currently, Olonetzky is working on a monograph titled Unguided road trip with photographer Roland Iselin, which covers a large series of photographs taken between Iselin’s two homes: Switzerland and America.

Nadine Olonetzky, Drawing by Oscar Niemeyer in the dining room of the Grande Hotel de Ouro Preto, Ouro Preto, Brazil, n.d. Image courtesy of the artist.
Meinrad Schade, War Without War, Photographs of the Former Soviet Union. 2015. Edited by Nadine Olonetzky. With texts by Nadine Olonetzky, Fred Ritchin, Mikhail Shishkin, and Daniel Wechlin. Imagecourtesy of the editor.

Roland Roos

Roland Roos is an artist dealing with technical and aesthetic processes, working with the environment (often in site specific projects), objects and society. The reduction of spaces and objects through humorous and methodological processes often highlight the formal qualities of the artwork, as well as the work-in-progress.

For his project “verde mare” Roos bought a special edition 1992 Fiat Panda in Turin (Italy), parking it at the museums deposit in Genoa where he was part of an artist residency programme. Over the course of 3 months Roos took the car apart into pieces, and invited friends to visit and take home a piece of the car on the train back to Switzerland. Once the entire car had been returned piece by piece to Zurich, Roos began to reassemble the car – eventually exhibiting the fully functional car in a group show titled Talk to the hand at Helmhaus Zurich.

Roland Roos, Verde Mare, 2013, Helmhaus Zurich. Image courtesy of the artist.
Roland Roos, Verde Mare, 2013, Helmhaus Zurich. Image courtesy of the artist.

Dominique Koch

Dominique Koch uses her practice (sculptures, video installations and performances) to address the limitations of communication and linguistics – using language to reflect on queries on the relationships that exist between thought, speech and the body.

Working across a variety of media and modes of practice, Koch confronts linguistic elements through a methodological process in which language is used as the material. Utilizing speech, gesture, digital communications and physical expressions, Koch’s practice continues to reflect on the philosophy of language through performative experimentation.

Dominique Koch, Installation view: Beyond Chattering and Noise. 2015. Kunsthalle Basel. Image courtesy of the artist. (Photo credit: Julien Félix).
Dominique Koch, And the Pattern Will Repeat. Detail view. From the installation: Beyond Chattering and Noise. 2015. Centre Culturel Suisse Paris. Image courtesy of the artist. (Photo Credit: Simon Letellier).

For more information on the Swiss Art Awards and to see the rest of the participating artists, please visit their website here.

The Swiss Art Awards begin 13 June and will run until the 19 June in Basel, Switzerland.

Megan McCann

After spending a season working across art and design events within the Middle East, Megan McCann is now based in London and freelancing as a ‘multi-purpose’ arts professional. Megan splits her time between consulting as a project manager for exhibitions and arts projects, assisting on editorial and curatorial research, and working with young collectors on new acquisitions.