Rhizome, the New York–based digital arts organization, has named Porpentine Charity Heartscape, Bogosi Sekhukhuni, and Eva and Franco Mattes as winners of the annual Prix Net Art award. This year, each winner is awarded an unrestricted prize of $5,000, funded by Rhizome’s partner, the Chronus Art Center in Shanghai.
The two artists and one artist duo “represent differently formulated but intersecting concerns and directions in the field of net art,” the announcement of the awards stated. Rhizome’s executive director Zachary Kaplan added, “The three exceptional artists/artist duo were awarded the prize for their ongoing excellence and represent the future of the form. They show the diversity and quality of art on the internet.”
This biggest names this year are Eva and Franco Mattes, who have worked in various forms and media since the 1990s. Between 1995 and 1997, they stole and collected fragments of masterpieces from around the world by such artists as Marcel Duchamp, Jeff Koons, and Vasily Kandinsky. The most notable work by the duo, who have also operated under the moniker 0100101110101101.org, is a presentation at the 2001 Venice Biennale of work by the “deceased” Serbian artist Darko Maver, who favored graphic images of death. The work was subsequently revealed to be a hoax.
Porpentine Charity Heartscape has previously been commissioned by Rhizome twice and is included in the upcoming 2017 Whitney Biennial. Described in the award’s announcement as a “writer, game designer, and dead swamp milf,” Heartscape makes work, often in the form of hypertext narrative, that looks at trauma and reality versus virtual reality. Bogosi Sekhukhuni is a South African conceptual artist whose work looks at the effects of diaspora and repressed African spirituality. Unlike the other winners, Sekhukhuni has not previously collaborated with Rhizome. He was included in the 2015 exhibition “Co-Workers: Network as Artist” at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris.
Over the Prix Net Art award’s three years, each jury has interpreted how to award the prize differently. This year’s award changed the designation slightly, with three $5,000 awards distributed equally, whereas in the past, a winner was granted $10,000 and a separate distinction award for $5,000 was named. The first mined the history of net art from the 1990s, going to JODI, with the distinction award going to Kari Altmann, whose practice looked to the future of the form. The second looked more at how the form was taking shape during the present moment, with Constant Dullaart named the winner and the distinction award going to the artist-engineer collective Weise7. This year’s jury consisted of Chronus Art Center artistic director Zhang Ga, New Museum curator Lauren Cornell, the Whitney Museum’s new media curator Christiane Paul, and Rhizome assistant curator Aria Dean.