in Frieze London | 08 SEP 21

Sung Tieu Wins Frieze Artist Award 2021

Exploring the psychological dimension of warfare, acoustic weaponry and its relationship to Cold War ideologies, Sung Tieu's film will premiere during Frieze Week London in October 2021

in Frieze London | 08 SEP 21

Sung Tieu is the recipient of this year's Frieze Artist Award in London. 

Now in its eighth year, the prize offers an emerging international artist the opportunity to debut a major new commission on the occasion of Frieze London. Focused for the third year on moving image, the Frieze Artist Award is presented in partnership with Forma

The annual initiative is part of the Frieze London’s anchor programme of talks, collaborations and special projects. Tieu’s commission will premiere at No. 9 Cork Street on 15 October 2021, following which the artist will appear in conversation with Chris Rawcliffe. The work will be available to stream online at thereafter.

Sung Tieu
Sung Tieu

Congratulations to Sung Tieu for winning the Frieze Artist Award 2021. I'm thrilled Forma could work with Sung, the jurors and the Frieze team on this important film prize. Sung's exploration of geo-politics, the legacy of cold war dynamics and for this commission, sonic warfare and the "Havana Syndrome" are more relevant than ever– with alleged attacks reported in Vienna and Berlin this year alone. Her research and new film exposes both the threat and vulnerability of opaque global power. - Chris Rawcliffe (Artistic Director, Forma)

Tieu’s winning commission was selected by a jury composed of Steven Cairns (Curator, Artists’ Film & Moving Image, ICA, London), Anna Gritz (Curator, KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlin), Eva Langret (Artistic Director, Frieze London), Chris Rawcliffe (Artistic Director, Forma) and Alberta Whittle (Artist, Frieze Artist Award Winner 2020).

We are delighted that Sung Tieu is the recipient of this year's Frieze Artist Award, particularly as her ongoing research into sonic warfare has an eerie prescience in light of current events. We would also like to extend our thanks to Forma for once again partnering on this initiative, demonstrating a shared understanding of the important role emerging artists play reshaping the culture of today. – Eva Langret (Artistic Director, Frieze)

The work continues the artist’s ongoing research into the psychological dimension of warfare, acoustic weaponry and its relationship to Cold War ideologies. Titled Moving Target Shadow Detection, 2021, Tieu’s film presents a detailed reconstruction of the interior of the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana, the site of the first-known instance of sonic warfare, and the incident to which the mysterious set of medical disorders collectively termed ‘Havana Syndrome,’ owes its name. First reported by US government officials in the Cuban capital in 2016, Havana Syndrome includes a range of unexplained symptoms from nausea, fatigue and memory loss to brain injuries resembling concussions, thought to be caused by covert sonic weapons. In Tieu’s film, footage leading from the hotel’s lobby through to an occupied hotel room is shown from the viewpoint of a small flying mosquito. Rendered as nano-drone camera footage, these images analyse the architectural and technical skeleton of the hotel, speculating on how the attacks could have taken place. 

Previous Frieze Artist Award Winners in London included Himali Singh Soin in 2019 and Alberta Whittle in 2020.

About Sung Tieu
Sung Tieu is an artist based in Berlin. Her work bridges conflicting emotions of the previous and coming Cold War areas. She has had institutional solo exhibitions at Haus der Kunst, Munich (2020), Nottingham Contemporary (2020) and Galerie für zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig (2021). Major forthcoming institutional group exhibitions include ‘Though It’s Dark, I Still Sing,’ at the 34th São Paulo Biennale in Brazil (2021), ‘TECHNO’, at Museion, in Bolzano, Italy (2021) and ‘Art Histories of a Forever War,’ at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum, in Taiwan (2021). Her forthcoming solo exhibition titled ‘FALL’ will open this October at Kunstmuseum Bonn. This year, Tieu is also nominated for the Preis der Nationalgalerie 2021, which will inaugurate mid September at Hamburger Bahnhof, in Berlin.

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Main image: Sung Tieu, Moving Target Shadow Detection, 2021. 3D simulation video and sound (work in progress video still). Courtesy of the artist; Emalin, London; and Sfeir Semler, Beirut.