Intended as a leg-up for young graduates who have studied the visual arts and media art at a Swiss art school, the award first launched in 2004 underscores Helvetia’s long-standing commitment to Swiss art. The prize is reserved for young artists just at the start of their career and while the focus of Helvetia's own collection of contemporary Swiss art – which incidentally counts among the most important of its kind – is on painting, drawing, and photography, the Helvetia Art Prize is not restricted to those disciplines. Its purpose is to bring the ideas and art forms of the next generation of artists to the public’s attention. The Helvetia Art Prize comes with prize money of CHF 15,000 as well as the chance to stage a show at the international art fair LISTE – Art Fair Basel.
The prize is awarded every year as part of the Plattform exhibition.
Tiphanie Kim Mall (*1987) is the winner of the 2020 Helvetia Art Prize. She holds a Master's degree from the Basel College of Art and Design. The jury was impressed at how Tiphanie Kim Mall captures the social dynamics of relationships with her camera and also calls into question the biases that observation and documentation can entail. How can a person's private sphere be filmed and how does filming stage reality?
For her latest film work House Cat (2020), which is being shown at the Plattform20 exhibition at the Fri Art Kunsthalle Fribourg, Tiphanie Kim Mall attached a camera to her cat's collar. We follow the house cat over a period of almost six months. We view the surroundings and individual parts of rooms from the cat's perspective. The cat's white whiskers in the frame serve as a constant indication that we are following the gaze of this independent animal which determines the dynamics and pace within the individual sequences. We accompany the cat as it moves through the apartment because the camera allows us to monitor the pet and understand its behaviour patterns. The fact that a person and an animal share their daily routine becomes particularly clear in those moments when the cat observes the artist at work in her atelier. The camera reveals both everyday and supposedly intimate moments and shows how not only the pet but also the artist become the object of observation. The video work thus opens up an ambivalent balancing act between documentation and observation.
This year's Helvetia Art Prize jury comprises Nicolas Brulhart (Artistic Director Fri Art, Kunsthalle Fribourg), Julian Denzler (Curator Museum zu Allerheiligen Schaffhausen), Ines Goldbach (Director Kunsthaus Baselland), Joanna Kamm (Director LISTE – Art Fair Basel), Andreas Karcher (Head of Helvetia's Art Department), Nathalie Loch (Curator of Helvetia's Art Department) and Karine Tissot (Art and Culture Manager CHUV Lausanne)..