Emidio Battipaglia convinced the jury with his proposal Synaptic Dialogues, which explores networking and communication between humans and machines. The Italian artist proposes a participatory project inviting viewers into a dialogue with plants and AI technology to question and re-evaluate our rapidly evolving world. In the search for a sustainable and livable future, Synaptic Dialogues probes new social terrains and synergies that arise from interactions between human and non-human actors, highlighting the transformative potential of these interconnected relationships between humans, technology and the environment. The new kinds of communities that emerge contribute to a collective sense of belonging, inclusivity and shared purpose, which is crucial for addressing global challenges. Emidio Battipaglia is an interdisciplinary visual artist who studied photography at ECAL in Lausanne and at Napier University in Edinburgh. He lives and works in Milan.
Emidio Battipaglia and Augustin Lignier are the winners of the fourth Art Vontobel Contemporary Photography Prize A New Gaze
Emidio Battipaglia and Augustin Lignier have been awarded Vontobel’s biannual international art award A New Gaze. Endowed with CHF 20,000, this prize for young contemporary photography is regarded as a springboard for emerging artists. In 2024, the two winners will be honored with an exhibition in Zurich.
The artists Emidio Battipaglia (*1984, IT) and Augustin Lignier (*1995, FR) were selected by an international jury as the joint winners of the fourth edition of the Art Vontobel sponsorship prize A New Gaze. Over 70 young artists from across Europe were invited to submit a project based on the theme of “Community”. Out of the numerous candidates nominated by experts, the two artists impressed the jury with their equally expanded and experimental approach to photography and their thought-provoking take on this year’s theme. The winning projects will be presented next year in a public exhibition in Zurich.
Augustin Lignier convinced the jury with his project Wink Piece. With this social experiment of sorts, the French artist aims to undertake a study that can provide insights into the role of non-verbal communication in community building. The small gesture of winking is used to create a sense of connection and shared identity between people, while this flash of connectedness is documented via a series of photographic moments. Interested in the performative aspect of images, Lingier blurs the lines between photography and performance art. Inspired by how communities form online, the Wink Piece will explore social interactions by underlining both parallels and discrepancies between our digital and physical behavior. Augustin Lignier studied photography at the ECAL in Lausanne and art at the Beaux-Arts de Paris. He lives and works in Paris.
Community as our central theme
The concept of community is omnipresent. But where does this desire for more community come from? Is it the answer to an increasingly complex world that is becoming more fragmented and anonymous? But while communities can strengthen cohesion and identity, they can also lead to divisions and conflicts, perpetuate stereotypes, and exclude. Politics, digitalization and, more recently, the pandemic and war have affected our perception of and behavior in communities in various ways. Thus, the theme of “Community” was at the heart of this year’s call for entries for the Art Vontobel Contemporary Photography Prize A New Gaze 4. Young artists from across Europe were invited to submit a project proposal revolving around this theme. The Vontobel Prize is awarded every two years, with each edition focusing on a different geographical region and a new, currently relevant topic.
Andreas E.F. Utermann, Vontobel Chairman Board of Directors and President of the Vontobel Art Commission: “With the fourth edition of our art prize A New Gaze, we are—for the very first time—jointly honoring two artist projects. The jury thus acknowledges the quality of two highly committed artists who facilitate an expanded sense of seeing and thinking through their projects. Augustin Lignier and Emidio Battipaglia successfully take on the given theme of ‘Community’ by addressing associated societal evolutions in varied yet complementary ways.”
Florian Ebner, Head of the Photography Department at Centre Pompidou, Paris (Jury Member): The selection of conceptual proposals by Augustin Lignier and Emidio Battipaglia will succeed in creating an exciting dialogue between two different worlds: the physical space of the city and the virtual space of artificial (and natural) intelligence beyond the human. With his project Wink Piece, Augustin Lignier simultaneously takes up the programmatic performances of the 1970s and expands the old genre of street photography, in which he finds a subtle and playful analogy in urban space for our practice of “likes” that has become commonplace. With his experimental approach, Emidio Battipaglia attempts to juxtapose two seemingly unrelated worlds in his work Synaptic Dialogues: the organic information of plants and the structures of artificial, neuronal networks. The Italian artist’s experimental arrangement, which has yet to be developed, will also be read as an invitation to understand organic perception beyond the human, as a New Gaze on our physical and virtual reality.
- Ann-Christin Bertrand, curator, author and lecturer in photography, Head of Programme BA Camera Arts at Lucerne University (guest expert and jury member)
- Georgina Casparis, Head & Curator Art Vontobel (jury member)
- Florian Ebner, Chief of Photography at Centre Pompidou (guest expert and jury member)
- Urs Stahel, independent curator, author and lecturer, and external advisor to Art Vontobel (jury member)
- Andreas E.F. Utermann, Chairman Board of Directors and President of the Vontobel Art Commission, plus other members of the Art Commission
About A New Gaze – Art Vontobel Contemporary Photography Prize
Mirroring the Art Vontobel Collection, the prize—awarded every two years since 2017—reflects its various core focal points: on the one hand, its international scope and dedication to supporting and promoting the works of young and emerging artists and, on the other, the attention on addressing key questions concerning contemporary society by collecting works that revolve around the presentation of humanity and our actions in the present. As such, each edition of A New Gaze focuses on a new geographical region and socially relevant topic. In addition to the prize money, the award also includes the production of the winning projects, an exhibition and an accompanying publication.
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