Meet This Year’s ITS Artwork Finalists

Last weekend, international media and the creative industry’s prominent players gathered in Trieste, a charming Italian town near the Slovenian border, to participate the 15th edition of International Talent Support. Centred around the theme of ‘Utopia’, this year’s edition saw an unprecedented level of talent and the flourishing of visionary ideas.

Ten finalists from nine countries, selected earlier this year, were challenged to produce a unique artwork that would express their personal vision of artistic utopia.As a global platform to showcase the best fashion and design talents, ITS teamed up with Swiss watchmaker Swatch in 2014 to launch the category that celebrates pure artistic creativity – ITS Artwork. Ten finalists from nine countries, selected earlier this year, were challenged to produce a unique artwork that would express their personal vision of artistic utopia. They were given only the following requirements: 120×120 cm dimensions and the inclusion of colourful Swatch products in any possible form. Given the range and quality of the final works, choosing the winners was no easy task. Eventually, three winners were announced by Carlo Giordanetti, Creative Director Swatch International, during a ceremony held in the astounding space of Salone degli Incanti.

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“I wanted to create an object that would in fact create an endless self-reflecting space, a space to escape and separate the world around you.”The winner of the Swatch Award is Slovenian designer Jana Zornik with her brilliantly minimalistic artwork that speaks of introspection. An aesthetically delightful objet d’art, the piece was made of deconstructed parts of Swatch watch packaging, combined with acrylic. Interested in the idea of self-reflection, Zornik included a magnifying lens and the mirror in her piece, so a person looking through it receives the stare back from their own enlarged eye. “Initially, I wanted to create a box with a reflection that would in fact create an endless self-reflecting space, a space to escape and separate the world around you. Although the form has eventually changed, the main idea remained similar – you can take a look inside and face your inner self for a moment,” explained the designer. An inspiring and intimate piece of art, it also shows Zornik’s unique way of approaching the brief. As her works are usually marked by a rather muted palette, the designer incorporated the color not in the artwork itself, but as a reflection on the wall. “I used special material inside the spikes, so when the light is shining through the piece, there is a colourful reflection on the wall,” she explains. Zornik’s courageous and thoughtful concept won her a prize of €10,000 and a 6-month paid internship at the Swatch Creative Lab in Zurich, Switzerland. “No doubt she will bring an interesting new talent to the creative team at Swatch,” said Giordanetti.

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“Marco’s artwork is emotive, yet executed in a very clean and contemporary style.”Italian designer Marco Baitella, who just graduated from London’s RCA, won the ITS Artwork Award, receiving €10,000 and the opportunity to exhibit a special project at ITS 2017. “UTOPIA is an undefined dimension that was conceived and still grows in my imagination, a city where the buildings are painted with memories,” explains Baitella. To produce his artwork, he cast different objects in resin blocks, creating a landscape of information that spoke directly about his identity. Including very personal pieces, such as shoe from his childhood or pasta to suggest his native country, particular parts of the work represented past, present and future – in this case, a blank resin block, left unfilled. “Marco’s artwork is emotive, yet executed in a very clean and contemporary style. His next challenge is to come back next year and blow our minds with the next generation of his art,” said Giordanetti.

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“Hazuki created an amazingly playful and optimistic world. It was impossible not to smile, laugh and fall for her weapons of love.”As the level of talent was unparalleled, the jury awarded an unexpected third prize to Hazuki Katagai, who won a three-month art residency at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai. The Japanese artist, who defines utopia as a ‘mutual understanding’, created a series of toy-like weapons that, instead of hurting, spread the love and affection to others. So, among other surprising pieces, the series includes a tickling tripod or a harpoon that blows kisses. A kaleidoscope of lively colors and cheerful materials, Katagai’s work has a clear positive message, calling actively for tolerance and respect. Carlo Giordanetti explained with enthusiasm: “Hazuki created an amazingly playful and optimistic world. It was impossible not to smile, laugh and fall for her weapons of love.”

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Although winners had to be chosen, in fact all the finalists won, receiving a unique chance to show their artistic vision to an international audience. In the end, ITS is all about creative community with a warm, family-like spirit: A community that has gathered 520 finalists over 15 years, with many of them working for leading fashion and design brands today. “We aren’t just dealing with projects, we are holding in our hands seeds.” said Barbara Franchin, the founder of ITS. Given the impressive careers of some of the previous ITS finalists, including Demna Gvasalia of VETEMENTS or Astrid Andersen, it is more than certain that the this year’s talents will soon enter the creative industry with their vibrant ideas and artistic energy.

The finalists of the Swatch Artwork Award: Sheila Pazos, Karan Torani, Wenxin Lee, Wenxin Lee, Cheng-Zong Yu, Birute Mazelkaite, Han Kim and Chinami Tokizawa.

– In collaboration with SWATCH –

All images courtesy of © Swatch

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