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Experimental Vietnamese filmmaker, documentarian, and video artist Nguyễn Trinh Thi has been named the winner of the inaugural Han Nefkens Foundation, Mori Art Museum, M+ and Singapore Art Museum – Moving Image Commission. Nguyễn will receive $100,000 and be given up to eighteen months to create a screen-based work of art to be exhibited in each of the three participating museums. The prize was created and is funded by the Barcelona-based Nefkens Foundation, whose Dutch-born founder, philanthropist Hans Nefkens, is committed to the promotion of film and video. It is awarded in partnership with Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, Hong Kong’s M+, and the Singapore Art Museum.

This collaboration between the foundation and the institutions aims to strengthen the relations among the museums and to develop a sustainable project. The prize is meant to foster contemporary film production and is in support of established artists of Asian origin or living in Asia who have not yet received major institutional support. Nguyễn was chosen from a short list of three, winnowed down from eighteen, that additionally included Kazakhstan’s Ugay Alexander and China’s Wang tuo. The decision was made by a final jury chaired by Nefkens and comprising the directors of each museum: Mori’s Kataoka Mami, M+’s Suhanya Raffel, and Singapore Art Museum’s Eugene Tan.

“Nguyễn Trinh Thi was selected for her compelling video works that weave unspoken stories about Vietnam within the broader historical, cultural and political realities of Southeast Asia,” wrote the members of the prize jury in a collective statement. “We believe it is imperative for Nguyễn to show these perspectives from the region and we are enthusiastic about the use of listening as a methodology, especially in terms of perceiving history in Nguyễn’s works.”

The Hanoi-based Nguyễn montages found footage, still images from a variety of sources, and her own audio and visual recordings to create works addressing themes of memory, representation, landscape, indigeneity, and ecology. Nguyễn, who in recent years has shown work at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and in the Biennale Jogja, Yogyakarta, Indonesia; the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, Brisbane; and the Biennale of Sydney, will participate in Documenta 15 in Kassel next year.

“It's my complete honor to receive this prestigious award,” said Nguyễn. “Thank you so much for creating such a generous commission for Asia and Southeast Asia, where non-commercial experimental art practices still receive so little acknowledgement and attention. This support will allow me to work on a dream project, with collaborations from a wider network of colleagues and communities.”

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