London- and Delhi-based Himali Singh Soin is the winner of the Frieze Artist Award at Frieze London 2019. Curated by Diana Campbell Betancourt, the Award is a major opportunity for an emerging international artist to present an ambitious work at Frieze Art Fair. For the first time, the Frieze Artist Award will focus on the medium of film and is supported by Forma and Channel 4 Random Acts, who also selected the winning artist in collaboration with Frieze.
Soin responded to a brief set by Random Acts that asked for proposals to consider the ‘state of the nation’. Singh Soin will debut her new commission at Frieze London 2019. Channel 4 Random Acts will also broadcast the film on Channel 4 and online this autumn.
Himali Singh Soin works across text, performance and moving image, using the natural environment as a metaphor for speculative cosmologies, revealing entanglements between human and non-human life. Singh Soin’s winning proposal builds on her ongoing research project into remote areas of the Arctic and Antarctic circles. Entitled ‘we are opposite like that’, the series creates fictional myths for places that lack indigenous communities and legends of their own. Soin tells their stories from the non-human perspective of a melting fossil – ice – that has witnessed historic changes throughout time.
The new Artist Award commission will extend Singh Soin’s ice metaphor to Britain. Singh Soin will use the Victorians’ fear of an imminent glacial epoch – a belief that Arctic ice would subsume the country – as a starting point to think about the alien other. Has Britain always feared the encroachment of the outside world? Could its past fears of fading into foggy oblivion, of falling from greatness to insignificance, be influencing its current reality? In these ways, Soin’s new commission will reimagine ice as an agent of decolonisation, a blank canvas for histories, desires and possible futures, and as a canary in a coal mine for an imminent climate catastrophe.