Yto Barrada (Art) and Füsun Köksal (Music) win the 4th edition of The Mario Merz Prize

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Yto Barrada (Art) and Füsun Köksal (Music) win the 4th edition of The Mario Merz Prize
Yto Barrada, Tree Identification for Beginners, 2012, 16 mm film, color, sound, 36 minutes, edition of 5 + 2 APs. Copyright: Yto Barrada, Courtesy: Pace Gallery; Sfeir-Semler Gallery Beirut/Hamburg: and Galarie Polaris, Paris. Photo Courtesy: the artist.

TURIN.- The Mario Merz Prize is the only international award for art and music. Yto Barrada was chosen from a shortlist of international contemporary artists including Paolo Cirio, Christina Forrer, Anne Hardy, He Xiangyu, and Koo Jeong A. Füsun Köksal was selected from a shortlist of composers including Katherine Balch, William Dougherty, Farzia Fallah, Claudia Jane Scroccaro.

Yto Barrada has been selected as the winner of the Mario Merz Prize fourth edition in the Art category. Barrada was selected via an open public vote, and a jury comprised of Manuel Borja-Villel (Director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid); Caroline Bourgeois, (curator Pinault Collection, Paris); Massimiliano Gioni (Artistic Director of the New Museum, New York - artistic director of the Fondazione Trussardi, Milan); and Beatrice Merz (President of the Merz Foundation).

As the winning artist, Barrada will be commissioned to produce a new site-specific solo exhibition at Fondazione Merz, Turin in 2024.

The jury unanimously decided to award Yto Barrada with the following motivation:
“We expect a profound and resonating project from Yto Barrada, because her immensely poetic works touches contemporary concerns with irreverence, wit and originality, informed by her background in political science and history. Barrada has a sustained commitment to creating platforms of critical thinking and community engagement, focusing her work on found archives and micro-histories. Yto Barrada’s research is complex and articulated. Rethinking notions of authenticity, transmission and landscape, are just some of the significant areas the artist investigates, through installations, to textiles, to films, and book making.”

Yto Barrada (Paris, 1971) is a conceptual artist recognized for her investigations of cultural phenomena. Engaging with archival practices, Barrada’s installations uncover subaltern histories, and celebrate everyday forms of reclaiming autonomy. Her practice encompasses film, photography, sculpture, painting, printmaking, and publishing, while her installations often comprised both original work and found objects. Nonverbal communication, family myths, ‘hidden transcripts’ that unearth new grammars – within the interlinked logic of Barrada’s work lie secrets, pleasures and a celebration of strategies of resistance to domination. She is the founder of the Cinémathèque de Tanger, an art-house cinema that has become a landmark institution. Recently, Barrada has set up The Mothership in Tangier, an eco-feminist research centre and artist’s residency, surrounded and grounded by a dye garden.

Füsun Köksal has been selected as the winner of the Mario Merz Prize fourth edition in the Music category. Füsun Köksal was selected via an open public vote, and a jury composed of Helena Winckelman (violinist and composer), Diego Chenna (Professor of Chamber Music at Hochschule für Musik, Freiburg), Thomas Demenga (cellist and composer) and Willy Merz (composer and Orchestra Director).

As the winning composer Köksal will be commissioned to write a piece for string orchestra or for solo instrument and string orchestra as well as a soundtrack for a museum space.

Choosing from the excellent and varied proposals heard in the concert of finalists of the fourth Mario Merz Prize, the music jury decided to award Füsun Köksal's work with the following motivation:

“In Füsun Köksal's piece one appreciates an intense and effective dramaturgy combined with a diffused lyricism. The alternation of solos and tutti is masterfully conducted, while the score also demonstrates the composer's excellent knowledge of instrumental techniques, her overview of the various timbres and their use for poetic purposes. The piece, which develops through violent emotional and sonorous shifts, succeeds in finding an accomplished and evident formal arrangement thanks to the interesting development of the dynamics of the instruments.”

Füsun Köksal (Bursa – Turkey, 1973), currently based in İzmir-Turkey, is a composer whose works have recently been programmed in various contemporary music festivals such as Berliner Festspiele MaerzMusik (Germany), Schleswig Holstein Music Festival (Germany), Warsaw Autumn (Poland), Via Stellae Festival (Spain), Fertile Crescent (USA), Mise-En Music Festival (USA), Timsonia (Romania), KNM Contemporaries (Germany), NOW! Festival (Germany). The prominent ensembles and performers who have featured her music include Derek Bermel, Agata Igras, Richard Haynes, Horia Dumitrache, E-Mex Ensemble, Penderecki String Quartet, Ensemble Calliopée, Ensemble U, Hezarfen Ensemble, Pacifica Quartet, Eighth Blackbird, Bilkent Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, and Vertix Sonore. Köksal graduated from Hochschule für Musik Köln and received her Ph.D in composition from The University of Chicago.

Held every two years, the Mario Merz Prize, was established to identify and celebrate key personalities in the field of visual art and music composition. It is the only international prize for art and music. The Mario Merz Prize, promoted by the Fondazione Merz with the collaboration of an organising committee, has been awarded the Medal of the President of the Italian Republic. The prize is supported by the Embassy of Switzerland in Italy, the Embassy of Italy in Switzerland, the Piedmont Region, the City of Zurich and the City of Turin. The selected winner for the Art Category is commissioned a site-specific solo project at the Fondazione Merz and the winning composer in the music category will be commissioned to create and perform a new musical score. Previous winners in the Art Category include Bertille Bak (2019); Petrit Halilaj (2017) and Wael Shawky (2015)

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