Tourmaline, Helena Uambembe Win Art Basel’s Biggest Art Prize

The Baloise Art Prize, the biggest art award associated with the Swiss edition of the Art Basel art fair, has gone this year to artists Tourmaline and Helena Uambembe, both of whom will receive 30,000 Swiss francs (a little over $30,000) each.

The award goes to artists in the “Statements” section of the fair, which is for galleries presenting work by emerging artists and is run by the Baloise Group, a Swiss insurance company based in Basel that has given funding to museums such as mumok in Vienna and the Hamburger Kunsthalle in Germany.

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This year, works by the winners will go to two museums: the Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt and MUDAM in Luxembourg. (Representatives for both museums figured on the prize’s jury.)

Tourmaline’s work had been brought to the fair by her New York gallery, Chapter NY. She is showing a new film called Pollinator, in which the artist is shown in the period rooms of the Brooklyn Museum and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden next door. The artist uses the film to meditate on notions surrounding pleasure and gardens, and makes use of ready-made footage, including images of the activist Marsha P. Johnson.

Uambembe’s work is on view at the booth of Jahmek Contemporary Art, which is based in Luanda, Angola, and which is one of the few African galleries at Art Basel this year. Divided into two spaces resembling a living room and a den, Uambembe’s presentation is meant to recall her upbringing in Pomfret, South Africa, and includes sculptures, prints, and more.


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