Uriel Orlow has been awarded the Prix Meret Oppenheim prize. Each year the Swiss Grand Award for Art / Prix Meret Oppenheim honours achievements in the fields of art, architecture and critique, publishing, exhibition with three laureate awards. Orlow has received this year’s prize alongside art historian and mediator, Stanislaus von Moos, and the collective Parity Group. The award ceremony will take place on 12 June 2023 as part of the “Swiss Art Awards” exhibition in Basel, Switzerland.
Orlow is Reader in Experimental Media at the University of Westminster. His practice is research-based, process-oriented, and often in dialogue with other disciplines, and often unfolds over extensive periods of time. His projects engage with residues of colonialism, spatial manifestations of memory, social and ecological justice, blind spots in representation and plants as political actors. In Theatrum Botanicum (2015–2018) and other multi-part bodies of work created in recent years, Orlow explores the role of plants as witnesses to European colonial history and climate change, and as bearers of memory. Taking plants as a point of departure, he maps out more-than-human entanglements and seeks other forms of resistance. Earlier works, such as The Benin Project (2007/2008) or Unmade Film (2012/2013), address the looting of cultural property under colonialism, the need for restitution, and the material and psychological dimensions of places marked by historical trauma.
Orlow’s multi-media installations focus on specific locations, micro-histories and forms of haunting. In his numerous exhibitions, he connects installation with photography, film, drawing and sound, in order to bring different image-regimes and narrative modes into correspondence. This fragmentation of media reflects the complexity and multi-layered content of his work and invites visitors to move through his exhibitions as active participants. Besides exhibitions, he realises performative works, including lecture performances, and collaborates with local communities to realise gardens in London, Lubumbashi and Kathmandu. His projects evolve out of careful processes of listening and paying attention to often overlooked events on the margins of history and current affairs.
A conversation between Orlow, Andrea Thal and Giovanni Carmine will be available in the forthcoming Prix Meret Oppenheim 2023 publication. The publication will be distributed as part of the July/August 2023 Kunstbulletin. Copies can be ordered via the Swiss Art Awards website.