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.
In her latest work, "The Bank of Dreams" (2021), which is currently on show at the Plattform21 exhibition at the Museo d'arte della Svizzera italiana (MASI) in Lugano, she addresses a future scenario in which capitalism is appropriating technological progress, entering the human subconscious and commercializing dreams.
In the foyer of the Palazzo Reali museum building in Lugano, which is architecturally reminiscent of a bank, Anito Mucolli has installed an ATM. It remains unclear in this ambiguous scenario between reality and fiction whether the machine is real or a work of art. The outer frame of the ATM is made of scagliola, which resembles marble. Its design picks up the classical style of the architecture. In the middle, a flat screen shows video ads for the bank and its innovative technology. Once the music and voice from the adverts are heard over the speakers, it emerges that this is no ordinary ATM, rather dreams are being sold here: test-driving your dream car, trying on special clothing, seeing loved ones again or even visiting alluring locations.
Anita Mucolli's work can been seen at the Plattform21 exhibition at MASI (Museo d'arte della Svizzera italiana) in Lugano from 22 August to 5 September 2021.
This year's Helvetia Art Prize jury comprises: