Samson Young, a Hong Kong–based artist whose work about sound and its impact on identity has appeared at a number of biennials over the past few years, has been named the winner of the inaugural Sigg Prize, a new award from the M+ museum, which is slated to open in 2021 in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District. The juried biennial award recognizes outstanding artistic achievement by artists born or working in China, and comes with a cash prize of 500,000 Hong Kong dollars (about $64,000).
Young won the award for his sound and video installation Muted Situations #22: Muted Tchaikovsky’s 5th, which is now on view in an exhibition of work by the Sigg Prize nominees at the M+ Pavilion until May 17, alongside works by artists Hu Xiaoyuan, Lin Yilin, Tao Hui, Shen Xin, and Liang Shuo. Each shortlisted artist will receive HK$100,000 (US $13,000).
Young’s award-winning installation features an orchestra in which the dominant elements of the performance are muted. In a statement, the Sigg Prize jury said, “Samson Young takes sound as source material, in an experimental practice rooted in his background in music composition. By muting the melody in an orchestral performance, he brings peripheral sounds to the fore,” adding, “With an element of humor, Young prompts audiences to focus on what is often overlooked or ignored, and to question the essence of the music and the collective ambition.”
Young was selected for the prize by a jury comprised of Tate director Maria Balshaw; Gong Yan, director of Shanghai’s Power Station of Art; Bernard Blistène, director of the Centre Pompidou in Paris; Suhanya Raffel, director of M+; curator Lai Hsiangling; artist Xu Bing; and collector and M+ board member Uli Sigg, who established the prize’s former iteration, the Chinese Contemporary Art Award, in 1997.
Alongside Young’s win came the announcement that curator Yang Zi named the first recipient of the Sigg Fellowship for Chinese Art Research, formerly known as the CCAA Art Critic Prize, which carries a cash prize of 200,000 Hong Kong dollars (around $26,000) that will go toward an independent research project.