Seoul-born New York City-based artist Anicka Yi, winner of the 2016 edition of the prestigious Hugo Boss Prize, uses a laboratory approach in her works that encompasses scientific research and transformative processes. Deploying data collection and sensory perception, Yi highlights the ephemerality of organisms and bacteria. Using her medium as a means to evoke a unique embrace of science, technology and life itself, she questions the idea of monumental art: “Where do all these objects go, in the huge vaults of history?”
The artist has a longstanding interest in scent and its link to memory; Yi sometimes uses smell in her installations to evoke specific references: “I think we could learn a lot more from taping our other senses and cultivating our other senses,” she has stated. Yi has dabbled with a myriad of eccentric mediums, one of them includes tempura fried flowers. This sees her developing a close working relationship with MIT scientists to effectively carry out her olfactive projects.
Her work is among the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette in Paris, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
Yi was selected as the — somewhat unexpected — winner of the Hugo Boss Prize in October, from a shortlist of six finalists that included Tania Bruguera, Mark Leckey, Ralph Lemon, Laura Owens and Wael Shawky.
The jury explained its decision in a statement: “We admire the unique embrace of discomfort in her experiments with technology, science, and the plant and animal worlds, all of which push at the limits of perceptual experience in the ‘visual’ arts.”
Yi is the 11th artist to receive the biennial prize, which was established in 1996 to highlight achievements within contemporary art. The prize expanded into another branch, the Hugo Boss Asia Art Award, in 2013, focusing on upcoming Asian talents.
See a video presention of her work here: https://www.guggenheim.org/exhibition/the-hugo-boss-prize-2016