Hanna Tuulikki Away with the Birds - performance 2014 Photo by A Boyd. All images courtesy of the artists and Whitechapel Gallery. Via submission

Allison Katz, Katie Schwab, Tai Shani, Emma Talbot and Hannah Tuulikki are the five shortlisted artists for the 8th edition of the Max Mara Art Prize for Women.

Established by the Whitechapel Gallery in collaboration with Max Mara in 2005, the annual competition aims to promote emerging female artists based in the UK, enabling them to develop their potential; and to inspire new artistic perspectives on 21st century Italy.

The winning artist, announced in early 2020, is awarded a bespoke six-month artist residency in locations around Italy after presenting the judges with a proposal for a new body of work. The resulting work will then premiered at the Whitechapel Gallery before travelling to the Collezione Maramotti in Reggio Emilia, Italy, in 2021.

A little more about the artists: Allison Katz was born in Montreal, Canada and lives and works in London. Her practice includes painting, ceramics, graphics and writing. And her works imbue familiar images including animals, human figures and still-life with abstract and surreal narratives. Ranging from the domestic to the monumental Katz adds a textural dimension to her paintings by encrusting them with sand or rice. Puns and wordplay abound in her work, which draws upon humorous slippages between word and image to create ambiguous, even absurd, confluences.

London-based artist Katie Schwab, meanwhile, embraces the social, historical and formal contexts for which her artworks are made. Her work is developed through a process of facilitating workshops and interviews, undertaking tuition, partaking in tours and looking through archival records, oral histories and sample books. She documents knowledge and skills that have been shared between artist, students, museum staff, technicians and local residents. Schwab’s diverse methods include tapestry, ceramics, embroidery, furniture, printmaking, video and more, unified by a consideration of collective manufacture.

Allison Katz Heaty 2017 Oil on canvas 175x125cm

Allison Katz Heaty 2017 Oil on canvas 175x125cm

Katie Schwab Leftovers 1 2017 Photo: Tom Carter

Katie Schwab Leftovers 1 2017 Photo: Tom Carter

Tai Shani creates vividly coloured sculptures that sit within elaborate installations, sometimes involving experimental texts written by the artist. She sets out to re-imagine “feminine otherness as a perfect totality”, set in a world complete with cosmologies, myth and histories that negate patriarchy.

Emma Talbot‘s work explores autobiography. Through drawing, painting, installation and sculpture, she expresses memories and psychological states. The imagery is direct and hand-drawn, resulting in immediate, open, inventive representations of what is seen in the mind’s eye.

Tai Shani DC: SEMIRAMIS Performance, 2018, Tramway Glasgow Image: Keith Hunter Photography

Tai Shani DC: SEMIRAMIS Performance, 2018, Tramway Glasgow Image: Keith Hunter Photography

Emma Talbot Your Own Authority 2019 Art Night commission Acrylic on Silk Dimensions variable Courtesy the artist, Image: Thierry Bal

Emma Talbot Your Own Authority 2019 Art Night commission Acrylic on Silk Dimensions variable Courtesy the artist, Image: Thierry Bal

Hanna Tuulikki, born in Brighton, is an artist, composer and performer based in Glasgow, Scotland. Her practice spans performance, film and multi-channel audio-visual installation, blending voice, dance, costume and drawing. Her multi-disciplinary projects investigate “how the body communicates beyond words, gravitating towards the spaces ‘in-between’, be it human-and-more-than-human, male-and-female, or ancient-and-contemporary”.

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Katy Cowan

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