Belfast multi-arts venue the MAC has just announced the 25 shortlisted artists chosen for a new art prize worth £20, 000 which attracted 1,000 entrants from as far away as the US and South Korea.
The MAC International prize has helped to put the venue on the map for the global art scene, and the shortlisted artists - working in a range of media from painting, photography, sculpture and performance to film and installation, will all see their pieces go on display at the venue from October 31 until January 18, 2015.
On the judging panel for one of the biggest art prizes in Ireland’s history and a major prize in the context of the UK (the much vaunted Turner Prize offers £25, 000 to the winning artist) was the Italian curator Franceso Bonami, the Tate’s Judith Newsbitt and chief curator at the MAC, Hugh Mulholland.
“It was incredible to receive over 1,000 submissions,” said Hugh.”And it’s amazing how far the news travelled, with submissions arriving from 30 different countries.
“There is no other prize in Ireland that offers an artist £20, 000. But it’s not so much about the money as having the opportunity to make a difference to an international artist’s life.”
Hugh described the challenge of whittling down the work to produce a shortlist with such a wealth of talent and creative ingenuity on display:
“We were looking for work of a certain calibre and are trying to accommodate as many artists as we could within the three galleries that we have but we also wanted to create an exhibition that has a degree of coherence.
“We want to present a rich exhibition to the viewer and therefore it was important to include painting, sculpture, photography, film, installation and performance. You can see some prevailing trends in contemporary practice emerging here.
“There is a real mix of contemporary and historical practice and the notion of boundaries as being both physical and virtual is just one theme that is explored.”
Two Belfast artists, Dougal McKenzie and Colin Darke, are among those named on the shortlist which features 24 projects and also includes artists from Lebanon, Israel, South Korea. Finland, Belgium and the US.
The winner of will be announced at the opening ceremony at the MAC on October 30. A full list of the selected artists is available from themaclive.com.