Art Basel 2016 News The Talent

Sara Cwynar and Mary Reid Kelley Named Winners of Baloise Art Prize

Mary Reid Kelley with Patrick Kelley, This Is Offal, 2016. COURTESY THE ARTIST

Mary Reid Kelley with Patrick Kelley, This Is Offal, 2016.


The winners of the Baloise Art Prize, an annual award sponsored by European financial services provider Baloise Group, were announced at Art Basel earlier today. Artists Sara Cwynar and Mary Reid Kelley will each be awarded a cash prize of CHF 30,000 ($31,000) at the Statements sector of the art fair. A selection of their work will also be donated to Frankfurt’s Museum für Moderne Kunst and the MUDAM museum in Luxembourg.

Canadian-born Cwynar’s winning entry, a video essay titled Soft Film, per the press release, is a “complex inquiry into fundamental aspects of photography.” For the work, Cwynar bought discarded personal artifacts and photographs on eBay and second-hand stores that she later arranged and filmed, creating a myriad of possible narrative strands she leaves up to the viewer to construct.

In Kelley’s winning film, This is Offal, the story is left less up to chance. Set in a morgue, the film, created in collaboration with Kelley’s husband, Patrick, is centered around a dialogue between the ghost of a deceased woman, the victim of a suicide, and her animated organs. Kelley is known for her feminist videos that recall the theater of the absurd and German Expressionist cinema.

The winners were decided by an international panel of judges, including directors from both the MMK and MUDAM museums.

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