The New York-based artist Anicka Yi works with scent and bacteria. She staged a show at The Kitchen in May 2015, where she asked one hundred female friends to donate strands of their DNA. She combined them and mixed them together in a giant petri dish. It played off the societal fears of feminism, the female body, and the power of female networks. It intertwined these fears with paranoia over hygiene, and what woman hasn’t experienced subtle social criticism of—if not outright reaction against—her own body and potential for competitive social and professional engagement.
These issues are, needless to say in the wake of our current election, prescient.
Last night at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, director Richard Armstrong and CEO Mark Langer announced Yi as the winner of this the 2016 Hugo Boss Prize.
“Her work is unlike any other artist’s practice that I know of,” said Katherine Brinson, who will be curating Yi’s forthcoming April exhibition at the Guggenheim. “It truly is. It stands out as really singular in its approach and I think that’s quite rare even in the massive and burgeoning art world that we’re all a part of. I think she makes work that is very visceral. When you’re in the space with it, it literally often permeates the space because she works with scent. But behind that immediacy, there’s a really rigorous layering of research, there’s scientific methodologies, but there is also political critique. I think her work really speaks to our societal circumstances in a very urgent and relevant way. Much of her work is infused with a feminist critique," she continued." She has created a number of pieces that look at female agency, female power, the potency of the female body and its repression. That’s timely.”
“In museum terms [that] is incredibly soon,” said Brinson of the show, which is only six months away. “Usually we work for at least two years—and that would be short—on an exhibition here. I actually find it very liberating because you get to be really responsive to a current state.”