Shortlisted Artists for the 2017 Mario Merz Prize Announced

The biennial prize celebrates talent in the fields of contemporary art and music.

Petrit Halilaj, I'm hungry to keep you close. I want to find the words to resist but in the end there is a locked sphere (2013). Photo Atdhe Mulla, courtesy of the artist and Chert, Berlin.
Petrit Halilaj, I'm hungry to keep you close. I want to find the words to resist but in the end there is a locked sphere (2013). Photo Atdhe Mulla, courtesy of the artist and Chert, Berlin.

The artists Francesco Arena, Petrit Halilaj, Gili Lavy, Shahryar Nashat, and Suha Traboulsi have been announced as the five finalists of the art category of the second Mario Merz Prize.

The shortlist was announced this morning at the Auditorium Kunsthaus in Zurich, coinciding with the world premiere of Al Araba Al Madfuna III by Wael Shawky, who’s the winner of the inaugural edition of the biennial prize.

Francesco Arena, Cucina democristiana (2012). Photo Giorgio-Benni, courtesy of Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milano.

Francesco Arena, Cucina democristiana (2012). Photo Giorgio-Benni, courtesy of Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milano.

Arena, Halilaj, Lavy, Nashat, and Traboulsi were selected by the artist Marisa Merz; Nicholas Cullinan, director of London’s National Portrait Gallery; and the independent curator Claudia Gioia.

“Examining the numerous candidates, we have sought those that are closest to the spirit of the Mario Merz Prize, an award dedicated to those who are firmly committed to pursuing their work despite any opposition resulting from political, social, or geographical belonging,” Beatrice Merz, president of the Fondazione Merz, told artnet News.

The five artists will exhibit their work in a group exhibition at the Fondazione Merz in Turin, opening in March 2017.

Gili Lavy, Absence (2016), film installation.

Gili Lavy, Absence (2016), film installation.

The winner will be chosen by a jury formed by Manuel Borja-Villel, director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid; the artist Lawrence Weiner; Massimiliano Gioni, artistic director of New York’s New Museum and of Milan’s Fondazione Trussardi; and Beatrice Merz.

Besides this illustrious jury of experts, the public is also invited to have their say as to who should win the prize, and will be able to vote for the candidates via the dedicated prize’s website from the moment the group exhibition opens, in March 2017.

Suha Traboulsi, Postscript to the Arabic Translation (2015). Courtesy of Galerie Raymonde Ghossein, Al-Quds, Palestine.

Suha Traboulsi, Postscript to the Arabic Translation (2015). Courtesy of Galerie Raymonde Ghossein, Al-Quds, Palestine.

The winner of the 2017 edition of the Mario Merz Prize will produce a solo exhibition that will tour to museums in Turin and Switzerland.

The prize was launched in 2015 with the double goal of commemorating Merz and of celebrating talent in the fields of art and contemporary music.

Shahryar Nashat, Prosthetic Everyday (2015). Installation view at 356 Mission Road, Los Angeles. Courtesy Rodeo Gallery, London.

Shahryar Nashat, Prosthetic Everyday (2015). Installation view at 356 Mission Road, Los Angeles. Courtesy Rodeo Gallery, London.

“The Fondazione Merz founded and developed in contrast to the concept of art as monument, or as the image of memory. The Fondazione today interprets its role as a center of energy for art that goes beyond borders [and ] the Mario Merz Prize plays an important role in this,” Beatrice Merz told artnet News.


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