Mario Merz Prize. Who’s the winner of the winners?

Bertille Bak, Mircea Cantor, David Maljkovic, Maria Papadimitriou and Unknown Friend are the five finalists of the third Prize edition.

Bertille Bak, Faire le mur, 2008, video 4:3 stereo, 17 mins, set photography. Production Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains. Courtesy Bertille Bak_Le Fresnoy

The five artists selected from the hundred proposals has been finally revealed. In Turin, in the spaces of the Merz Foundation, five groups of works present new works and recent projects by: Bertille Bak (France, 1983), Mircea Cantor (Romania, 1977), David Maljkovic (Croatia, 1973), Maria Papadimitriou (Greta, 1957) and Unknown Friend, duo composed by Stephen G. Rhodes (USA, 1977) and Barry Johnston (USA, 1980). In the massive spaces, the works are presented as five separate islands, five generational and compositional planets almost at the antipodes among them.

David Maljkovic, ‘Out of projection’ 2009, film setting. Courtesy the artist
David Maljkovic, ‘Out of projection’ 2009, film setting. Courtesy the artist

The dark, large semi-theatre at the entrance hosts the video Aquila non capit muscas (2018), by the Romanian-born artist Mircea Cantor. In the projection, the predatory path of an eagle is followed by the lens while with its gaze it points at an unexpected prey: a drone. A few meters away, the Istrian artist David Maljkovic presents an installation (Yet to Be Titled, 2019) composed of functional elements of common use, whose original intended use undergoes a strong semantic slip, acquiring new meaning. Chairs, tables, easels and other objects become a new supporting structure that is offered as a display of other works owned by the artist. Crossing the group of sculptures, the theatrical work of Maria Papadimitriou, author of Greek origins, appears imposing, which brings to the stage an iconic work through a new production designed specifically for the Merz Foundation. Unpacking Antigone (2017-19) explores the famous Sophocles drama, dedicated to the figure of Antigone, continuing the research started with Laboratory Antigone (Onassis Foundation, 2016). Regenerating some fundamental aspects of the tragedy: the transgression of the law, loyalty to the family, the personal project of death.

Unknown Friend_Sivilizations Wake, 2018 Production Still
Unknown Friend, Civilization's Wake, 2018 Production Still

In the most sheltered corner of the ground floor, the young French artist Bertille Bak presents again a project of 2012, of coexistence and sharing with the Roma communities of Paris: an installation ensemble composed of three works that develops around a very particular suggestion, namely the duration of the red light on the Turin roads; a video; a sequence of electronic billboards, each dedicated to the metropolitan line of a large European city. His work develops an unexpected dialogue between Paris and Turin, starting from the relationship between the Roma people and society. The lens, through which this complex relationship was investigated, is the large amount of fake news circulating on the Italian and French social networks about the alleged abduction of minors by the Roma population and the consequent episodes of violence and intolerance generated in citizenship. The artist examines the elements of difficulty that prevent or slow down the integration process and the management of the phenomenon itself on the territory.

Finally, in the basement of the Merz Foundation, the American artistic duo Unknown Friend, presents Civilization's Wake (2018). The work continues and concludes the research conducted on the novel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain in 1884, starting from the critical position that Twain had in his mind about the idea of ​​civilization inherent to the XIX Century culture. Filmed between the United States and Italy, the film documents how the issues related to racial hatred and tension between the different social classes are today, as then, extremely current and how, consequently, Marc Twain's statements have not lost at all of sense.

At the end of this exhibition, the jury composed by: Manuel Borja-Villel (Director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid), Lawrence Weiner (artist), Massimiliano Gioni (Artistic Director New Museum, New York - artistic director of the Trussardi Foundation, Milan) and Beatrice Merz. The announcement of the prize winner will take place in Madrid, on the occasion of the opening of the monographic exhibition dedicated to Mario Merz at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. And in November 2020, one of these artists, will have the opportunity to present a solo show and a new project, entirely supported by the Foundation based in Turin.

Maria Papadimitriou, SOUZY TROS, 2012 up to now, Art Canteen, platform for public events 8 Markoni str, Eleonas, Athens, Greece, Photo credit  © Maria Papadimitriou
Maria Papadimitriou, SOUZY TROS, 2012 up to now, Art Canteen, platform for public events 8 Markoni str, Eleonas, Athens, Greece, Photo credit © Maria Papadimitriou
Exhibition Title:
Exhibition of the Mario Merz Prize's finalists
Opening dates:
From 3 June to 6 October, 2019
Curated by:
Claudia Gioia, Samuel Gross, Beatrice Merz
Fondazione Merz
via Limone, 24 - Torino

Latest on Art

Latest on Domus

Read more
China Germany India Mexico, Central America and Caribbean Sri Lanka Korea icon-camera close icon-comments icon-down-sm icon-download icon-facebook icon-heart icon-heart icon-next-sm icon-next icon-pinterest icon-play icon-plus icon-prev-sm icon-prev Search icon-twitter icon-views icon-instagram