Paul Chan’s Master Argument, a 2013 work made from cords, shoes, and concrete, is currently installed at the Schaulager in Basel. (Photo courtesy Greene Naftali gallery)
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Hugo Boss announced last night that Paul Chan is the winner of the 2014 Hugo Boss Prize. He will receive $100,000 (plus a a terrific tetrahedral trophy, at right), and an exhibition of his work will be on view at the Guggenheim Museum come sping. Other artists shortlisted for this, the tenth Hugo Boss Prize were Sheela Gowda, Camille Henrot, Hassan Khan, and Charline von Heyl. Established in 1996, the biennial award “is conferred upon artists whose work represents a significant development in contemporary art,” according to Hugo Boss and the Guggenheim. Past winners include Danh Vo, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Emily Jacir, and Matthew Barney.
Born in Hong Kong and raised in Omaha, Chan has an astonishingly varied artistic practice that ranges from elegiac film projections to fonts he designed for nefarious purposes. He is also a reliably fascinating source of thought about his work, his working process, and art in general. “In a strange way, working alone helps me value my body because my body becomes the limit and the horizon of what I can and cannot do. It’s a cross between being very stupid and stubborn and holding on to the idea of being human,” he said in an interview when asked about his views on collaborating to create artwork. “But I am completely surrounded by and intrigued by and reliant on machines, so going back to drawing helps. Going back to drawing doesn’t mean that I go back to the premodern, but somehow I go back through the machines to draw, not like a machine, but with the ethic of a machine; through a prism of having gone post-machine….I’m not going to regress things. I’m not [Henry] Darger. But I can ask, What if Darger had a G5, and an MFA, and were still alive?”