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Gianni Motti Wins the 2013 Prix de la Société des Arts

Gianni Motti

Gianni Motti

In the panorama of contemporary Swiss art, Gianni Motti occupies a category all his own, and while his influence nationally and internationally is beyond dispute, it is no less important to point out both the force and integrity of his independence with respect to the usual institutional and economic channels art follows. Consequently, the Italian-born Swiss artist, born in 1958, was selected the winner of the 2013 Prix de la Société des Arts in Geneva by a jury of five experts comprised of Marc-Olivier Wahler, Michele Robecchi, Andrea Thal, Alexandra Blättler and Sylvia Alberton.

The Prix de la Société des Arts, one of the oldest cultural societies in Switzerland, is an evolution of several prizes the society began awarding long ago. The current version of the prize, first awarded in 2009, is given every two years to a Swiss artist or artist who has lived in Switzerland for at least five years whose work has drawn critical acclaim on both the Swiss and international art scenes. The first two recipients were Francis Baudevin (2009) and Christoph Büchel (2011). The prize comes with a monetary award of 50,000 CHF-about $55,000-as well as a solo exhibition and accompanying catalogue.

Although his work has involved a form of relational aesthetics, fostered a taste for improvisation and quite often relied on today’s mass-media system, by all appearances it remains extremely direct and specific. Motti’s strategy springs from a clear-eyed observation of the world. Yet his point of view of reality is never straightforward; the irony with which he looks at his subjects adds a barely perceptible detachment that spares him from using special effects as a way to involve us in his narratives. In his connection with reality, he never resorts to sophistication or overelaboration of an object, be it formally or structurally. All of his work shows an absolutely disarming simplicity. Thus, the device employed in executing a particular project never becomes more important than a simple narrative; whether a video, document or object, his pieces always form a bit of the heritage we all bear with us, a trait that is rare nowadays.

Motti’s gaze is focused on the dark areas, those places at which nobody else is looking. The distance he assumes with respect to the system around him and in which he lives, as well as his sense of mimicry, make him one of the most interesting artists in Switzerland. Sports, the financial world, the media, international politics, parapsychology-Motti’s actions cover the whole spectrum of contemporary society, yet they offer no moral lessons.

This year’s prize exhibition is scheduled to begin Sept. 24 and will run through Oct. 27 at the Palais de l’Athénée’s Salle Crosnier. Geneva.

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