Allison Katz, Katie Schwab, Tai Shani, Emma Talbot and Hannah Tuulikki have been shortlisted for the latest edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women.

The bespoke residency and exhibition award aims to promote emerging female artists based in the UK, enabling them to develop their potential, and to ‘inspire new artistic perspectives on 21st century Italy’.

The selected artists were announced during the opening of the major work Che si può fare by the seventh winner of the prize Helen Cammock at Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy.

They were selected by a judging panel chaired by Iwona Blazwick OBE, director of the Whitechapel Gallery, joined by gallerist Florence Ingleby, artist Chantal Joffe, collector Fatima Maleki and art critic Hettie Judah.

Allison Katz was born in Montreal, Canada, and lives and works in London. Utilising painting, ceramics, graphics and writing, her works imbue familiar images including animals, human figures and still-life with abstract and surreal narratives.

London-based Katie Schwab’s works evolve by embracing the social, historical and formal contexts for which they are made. Developed through a process of facilitating workshops and interviews, undertaking tuition, partaking in tours and looking through archival records, oral histories and sample books, she documents knowledge and skills that have been shared between artist, students, museum staff, technicians and local residents. She uses a diverse methods including tapestry, ceramics, embroidery, furniture, printmaking, video and more, unified by a consideration of collective manufacture.

Also London-based, Tai Shani’s multidisciplinary practice comprises performance, film, photography and installation. She creates vividly coloured sculptures that sit within elaborate installations sometimes involving experimental texts written by the artist. The artist sets out to re-imagine feminine otherness as a perfect totality, set in a world complete with cosmologies, myth and histories that negate patriarchy.

Emma Talbot’s work explores autobiography. Through drawing, painting, installation and sculpture, she articulates memories and psychological states as visual poems or associative ruminations. She also lives and works in London.

Hanna Tuulikki was born in Brighton and is based in Glasgow. She is an artist, composer and performer whose practice spans performance, film and multi-channel audio-visual installation, blending together voice, dance, costume and drawing. Her multi-disciplinary projects investigate “the ways in which the body communicates beyond words, gravitating towards the spaces ‘in-between’, be it human-and-more-than-human, male-and-female, or ancient-and-contemporary”.

Announcing the shortlist, Iwona Blazwick said: “This unique prize offers time, space and funding to enable artists to develop their potential. For too long women artists have had to fight for recognition.

“The Max Mara Art Prize offers practitioners of different generations the opportunity to spend formative months exploring Italy; and the resources to create a major new commission that situates them on the world stage”.

The winning artist, who will be awarded the bespoke six-month artist residency in locations around Italy after presenting the judges with a proposal for a new body of work, will be  announced in early 2020. The resulting work will be premiered at the Whitechapel Gallery and then travel to the Collezione Maramotti in 2021.

The Max Mara Art Prize for Women was established by Whitechapel Gallery in collaboration with the Max Mara Fashion Group in 2005.

1. Allison Katz, Giant, acrylic and oil on canvas, 240x205cm, 2013-16.
2. Katie Schwab, A Working Building, installation image from The Gallery at Plymouth College of Art, Plymouth, 2019. Photo: Andy Ford
3. Tai Shani, DC: SEMIRAMIS, performance at Tramway Glasgow, 2018. Photo: Keith Hunter Photography
4. Emma Talbot, Your Own Authority (detail), acrylic on Silk, dimensions variable, 2019. Commissioned by: Art Night; Courtesy: the artist
5. Hanna Tuulikki, Away with the Birds, performance, 2014. Photo: A Boyd

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