GRAND RAPIDS, MI – A 1960s-era office setting in which bureaucrats challenged whether visitors are valid members of the community won the $200,000 Juried Grand Prize for ArtPrize Eight.
"Bureau of Personal Belonging" was created by North Carolina performance artist Stacey Kirby.
The installation was set up in vacant offices on the ground floor of 50 Monroe Avenue NW. Actors interviewed visitors and registered them as members of the community in a setting that used vintage desks, file cabinets, wall maps and bulletin boards.
"The work points to the often absurd way bureaucracies define identity – particularly sexual and gender identity – and encourages viewers to contact Michigan lawmakers regarding certain pieces of legislation," according to ArtPrize.com.
Kirby built the office setting with $10,770 she raised from a Kickstarter campaign and a $5,000 grant she received from an ArtPrize "Pitch Night" event in Durham, North Carolina.
The jurors – chosen by ArtPrize to vote on their favorites – chose Kirby's work from a Final 20 list they drew up after the first week of ArtPrize.
"Stacey's piece was so thoughtful and so ambitious that it stood out," said juror Paul Ha. "The production was so high. And you walked in and you weren't quite sure if you were in an acting studio or part of a piece.
"Then after you engage with the artist and the actors, you realize they are letting you know there are some points out there that we should be aware of."
The jurors also awarded $12,500 prizes to finalists in the competition's four categories:
- Two-dimensional: les bêtes, at the City of Grand Rapids Water Building, by Isaac Aoki from Grand Rapids. The entry consists of a series of nude photographs shot in the winter on the beach near Saugatuck.
- Three-dimensional: Excavations, at SiTE:LAB/ Rumsey St. Project, by William Lamson from New York, NY. Lamson created his work by using a saw to cut patterns in a concrete driveway at 341 Franklin St. SW. He removed the cut-out chunks and repositioned them around the site.
- Time-based: Search Engine Vision "ISIS", at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, by Eric Souther from Mishawaka, Ind. The video and wallpaper presentation is based on the results of a YouTube search of the words: "ISIS goddess."
- Installation: This Space is Not Abandoned, at 912 Grandville Ave, by 912 CollABORATIVE from Grand Rapids. This collaborative of local artists used murals, paintings, photographs, multi-media installation, fashion, dance, and theater to explore themes of race, cultural identity, and personal experience.
The juried award for Outstanding Venue was split between EVERYTHING IS TRANSFORMED, SiTE:LAB / Rumsey St. Project and This Space is Not Abandoned, 912 Grandville Avenue.
The ArtPrize jurors included: Michelle Grabner, artist and professor at School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Paul Ha, Director at the MIT List Visual Arts Center; and Eric Shiner, Senior Vice President at Sotheby's.
Besides choosing the Grand Prize winner, the jurors also selected five entries from each category on Sept. 26 for the Jurors' Shortlist Event.
Venues will remain open through Sunday, Oct. 9 at 6 p.m. For a complete, ranked list of the Public Vote category finalists, visit artprize.org/lists or the ArtPrize mobile app.
In the Public Vote category, ArtPrize officials said 37,433 visitors registered to vote, casting 380,119 votes.