Zurich Art Prize 2021
October 28, 2021 to January 16, 2022
In 2021, the Zurich Art Prize, awarded annually by Museum Haus Konstruktiv and Zurich Insurance Group Ltd, goes to Sonia Kacem (b. 1985 in Geneva, lives and works in Amsterdam). This Swiss-Tunisian artist is the 14th winner of the prestigious award, which comprises a CHF 80,000 budget for the production of a solo exhibition at Museum Haus Konstruktiv and CHF 20,000 in prize money.
In her artwork, Sonia Kacem distinguishes herself with a heightened sensitivity towards materials that she extracts from the everyday consumer cycle: These include very different kinds of processed products, sometimes obtained from second-hand or online stores, such as sun awnings or everyday textiles, but also substances and commodities like vinyl, paint or wood, which she discovers by chance or obtains directly from the respective production sites. The artist uses them to develop large-scale installational and sculptural arrangements, in which she plays with our expectations regarding the nature and function of the materials.
Kacem is particularly interested in exploring different varieties of abstraction, transitions undergone by surfaces and volumes, or questions of scale. Her presentations open up a wide range of associations and hybrid cultural contexts. Formally, they refer to various periods and styles from art history and reflect influences from minimal art just as much as those from the Italian baroque or from Arab Islamic art.
For her exhibition at Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Kacem has continued her long-running engagement with color, pattern, decoration, ornamentation, calligraphy and the gestural.
The Zurich Art Prize jury expressed enthusiasm about Kacem’s transcultural and transdisciplinary examination of geometric abstraction, as it broadens the perspective on the history of constructivist-concrete art, which Museum Haus Konstruktiv has been helping to write for decades. The jury also found the diversity of her sculptural presentations interesting and is curious to see the formal solutions that Kacem will develop for the spaces at Museum Haus Konstruktiv.
Exhibition view Museum Haus Konstruktiv, 2021. Photo: Stefan Altenburger (1) / Sonia Kacem, Ensemble of five (between two waves), 2020-2021, installation view Atelier Sonia Kacem, Photo: Gunnar Meier (2) / Exhibition view Museum Haus Konstruktiv, 2021. Photo: Stefan Altenburger (3)