NICOLA ANTHONY SHORTLISTED FOR
SOVEREIGN ART PRIZE 2018
I am very honoured to have been shortlisted as one of 30 finalists for the the 2018 Sovereign Asian Art Prize – the 14th edition of this prestigious prize for mid-career contemporary artists.
The selected artwork Human Archive Project (borders are a human construct), 2017, was made using stories gathered in Singapore and South East Asia, giving insight into 20 individuals who have left their homeland and loved ones behind to work here as construction workers and domestic workers.
“Held annually, the Sovereign Asian Art Prize invites mid-career contemporary artists – nominated by a carefully selected board of independent art experts from the region – to enter up to three artworks online. Entries are then shortlisted by a small judging panel consisting of world-class art specialists, who select the best 30 artworks from a range of digital images. These 30 artworks are exhibited in a prominent public space in Hong Kong, where the pieces are judged a second time, in person.”
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Finalist artworks will be shown at exhibition in Hong Kong during April and May and then sold at auction during Sovereign Art Foundation’s Make It Better Gala on Friday 11 May, 2018. All sale proceeds will be split equally between the artists and valuable charitable projects that use art as a tool to empower disadvantaged children, including the Foundation’s ‘Make It Better’ project here in Hong Kong.
About the Selected Artwork
The Human Archive Project (borders are a human construct)
Variable dimensions, displayed as a series 50 x 40 x 50cm
Cut text, glass jars, blue pigment, gold leaf, clock mechanisms
20 vessels contain 20 stories of migrant workers in Asia. These stories are so rarely told, but each is a precious thing to be treasured as much as any life.
In this kinetic sculpture, cut-text sentences are suspended within gold vessels like they are floating scent. Words are cut like strands of lace made of blue pigment and gold leaf. Each is suspended on a clock mechanism.
Human Archive Project is a series of text artworks featuring stories from hundreds of individuals, focusing on the disenfranchised or those unable to voice their stories.
Whilst researching ‘Human Archive Project (borders are a human construct)’, I partnered with HOME (Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics) who empower and provide support for migrants suffering abuse and exploitation. Migrant workers are an ever present but often invisible layer of society. Borders, unspoken rules, unfair treatment and visa restrictions present incredible barriers which separate them from their loved ones and isolate them from society.
The sculptures measure time: the text rotates once per second, never static. As with other sculptures in this series, the words are partly hidden (just like many of the migrant workers in society), the stories are and not fully readable (much like the complex stories of every human being).
The vessels were inspired by the alchemistic and olfactory world of Arabic perfumes, minyak attar (or essential oil in Malay language), which are used in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca – another kind of migration. Minyak attar was significant in the trade heritage of Singapore, Malaysia, and many ports around the world which were stops on the Hajj journey. Current migrants often follow the trade routes looking for work, and describe this as a pilgrimage of sorts which they make for their family, a journey away from misfortune and towards hope.