On Wednesday, 5 July, at the Italian Cultural Institute in London, Beatrice Merz and Willy Merz announced the winners of the second edition of the Mario Merz Prize, the only international award for art and music: Petrit Halilaj (Art) and Geoffrey Gordon (Music).
The two winners were chosen from Francesco Arena, Petrit Halilaj, Gili Lavy, Shahryar Nashat, Suha Traboulsi for art and Gabriele Cosmi, Geoffrey Gordon, Pierre Mariétan, Catherine Milliken for music, by a jury composed of the public and of Manuel Borja-Villel (director of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid), Lawrence Weiner (artist), Massimiliano Gioni (artistic director of the New Museum, New York – artistic director of the Fondazione Trussardi, Milan) and Beatrice Merz for the art and Dieter Ammann (Composer), Thomas Demenga (cellist and composer), Alexander Lonquich (pianist) and Willy Merz for the music.
The jury of the Art section motivated its choice with these words:
The singular course of Petrit Halilaj’s life, marked by the memory of very serious events and the no less powerful and pervasive importance of affections, enables the artist to tackle the narration of history and stories with a great sensitivity, accompanied by a subtle and pervasive sense of irony. The capacity of the young artist to make places, situations and languages permeable on the basis of their own experience succeeds in the intent that closely accords with the aims of the Prize, to go beyond borders and break down cultural, physical and mnemonic walls, allowing the visitor to reconstitute the threads of erased memories and forgotten conflicts often consigned to oblivion by a false sense of domestic security. The possibility assured by the prize of realising a new project will enable a fresh global and synthetic vision of Halilaj’s work and thus a new phase of investigation and criticism of the contemporary scene, starting from the presence and role of artists as central figures in new wave of social, historical and cultural development
The jury of the Music section motivated its choice with these words:
In the Quintettsatz piece submitted, the jury particularly appreciated the expression of an appropriate dramatic topography, rendering a fine balance between content and form.
The various sections of the piece are also supported by a rigorous temporal scansion that is clearly effective.