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London–based artist Emma Hart has won the biannual Max Mara Art Prize for Women in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery.
The exclusively female award has been given in alternate years since 2005, supporting UK-based artists who have not previously had a solo survey exhibition, making it the only visual prize of its kind in Great Britain.
As the winner, Hart will now spend six months in Lombardy, Umbria, and Emilia-Romagna in Italy for a residency this year tailored to her needs and interests, allowing her to materialize an ambitious proposal. The subsequent body of work will be shown in a major solo exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2017 before touring to the Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy.
Hart’s proposal was chosen from a strong shortlist of five artists, including, Ruth Ewan, Ana Genovés, Tania Kovats, and Phoebe Unwin. Her proposal focused on family power by exploring the unique Italian ethos and traditions of family through symbols, possessions, and objects, as well as systems and relationships that exist in Italian culture. Hart’s ambition is to expose the highs, lows, and everyday realities of family life.
“The jury were impressed with the depth and breadth of references in Hart’s approach, from the Milan System’s Approach of family psychotherapy to the novels of Elena Ferrante, to the Italian tradition of Maiolica ceramics,” said Iwona Blazwick, director of the Whitechapel Gallery and chair of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women jury, in a statement.
Hart works across ceramics, video, photography, and sound, actively channeling her autobiography, anxieties, and embarrassments into her work. Her practice is concerned with the misrepresentation and suppression of experiences and emotions when captured on camera. She sets photographs and video screens against crude clay shapes, or scales-up ceramics in detailed installations that saturate the senses.
Previous winners of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women have included Corin Sworn, Laure Prouvost, Andrea Büttner, Hannah Rickards, and Margaret Salmon.