American filmmaker and writer Tourmaline and South African installation artist Helena Uambembe have been awarded the twenty-third Baloise Art Prize, the largest art prize affiliated with the Swiss iteration of Art Basel. The CHF 30,000 ($32,500) award is presented annually to artists exhibiting in the Statements section of the fair, which focuses on emerging artists. The Baloise Group, a Swiss insurer which administers the prize in partnership with the fair, will purchase works by both artists and donate them to the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt and to MUDAM in Luxembourg.
The Roxbury, Masachusetts–born Tourmaline makes work chronicling queer and trans histories. She won for her film Pollinator, in which the artist intercuts found footage with aerial shots of herself drifting through the Edwardian galleries of the Brooklyn Museum before exiting to the nearby Brooklyn Botanical Garded, which is presented as a site of pleasure. The work pays tribute to queer activist Marsha P. Johnson, a crucial figure in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969. Tourmaline was represented at Art Basel by the New York gallery Chapter NY.
Uambembe, who was born to Angolan refugees in Pomfret, South Africa, is known for her work examining history, place, and her own her heritage through the use of symbols and archival material. Shewon won for her installation replicating the TV room and living room of her parents’ house following their departure from their home country as civil war raged there. The work incorporates vases, teacups, and other intimate objects belonging to Uambembe’s parents, as well as personal photographs. The artist was represented at Art Basel by Jahmek Contemporary Art, Luanda, Angola.