At once personal and political, surreal and concrete, Vanessa Baird‘s work has extraordinary intensity. The Norwegian artist has recently been announced as the winner of the Lorck Schive Art Prize 2015, Norway’s biggest art prize and one of the largest in Europe. Vanessa, together with other shortlisted artists Ane Hjort Guttu, Jana Winderen and Snorre Ytterstad, created a thought-provoking work that engage with major global issues. In her series of wall drawings entitled I don’t want to be anywhere, but here I am she juxtaposed her descriptions of human chaos, including refugees drowning in the Mediterranean, with Gustav Vigeland’s permanently installed wall relief Hell. In occasion of the special awards ceremony held on 12 November at the Trondheim Kunstmuseum, we sat down with Vanessa Baird and discussed about her latest achievement and future projects.
What does winning the Lorck Schive Art Prize mean to you?
I am relieved. I am delighted to have won this award, particularly from such a strong shortlist of artists I respect. Four middle-aged artists have been competing for ½ million Norwegian kroner, which equals an average annual income. I have been lying on the floor drawing for the last year. Eating Prednisolone because my kidneys collapsed. As a result my face is big and ugly. So yes, I am very pleased to receive this big prize. My old mother whom I live with and share my life with is excited! She has lots of ideas about what to spend my money on. My three children are more than delighted, too. They are all screaming for new smart phones. I’m going to get them dental braces.
In your opinion, why are awards such as the Lorck Schive Art Prize important for emerging and established artists today?
It means that out of four artists, one will be decently payed for a year’s work. The prize money is an average annual income in Norway. Like a school teacher. It’s a bit like the Hunger Games. One out of four gets to live a normal life.
Could you tell us more about the concept and development of your work for the Prize?
I don’t have an objective relation to my own work. I shoved all my traumas and frustrations into the wall. The chaos that has generated the refugeeproblem, and my chaotic personal life.
Which kind of relationship do you aim to establish with your audience?
I really don’t reflect much about the audience. But I am blessed with the confidence that the audience will come.
What are your plans for the future? Are you currently working on new artistic projects?
I have a big commission. A mural. More drowning and cell phones. Lighting up the forest. Very poetic and scary. Two big shows in Oslo in the next two years. One in the Munch Museum and one big show at Kunstnernes Hus. Also, I’ll be makingbooks with my close colleague Mette Hellesnes. Maybe I’ll make a small book with my mother’s drawings. I’ve nicked the project that she has been working on her whole life.