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LarbitsSisters Win Inaugural New Media Interactive Art Prize

The Beijing Contemporary Art Foundation and the Big House Contemporary Art Center in Wuhan, China, announced that the Brussels-based duo LarbitsSisters has won the first-ever NOVA New Media Interactive Art Prize. The annual $16,000 award identifies emerging visionary artists who incorporate artistic concepts with future-oriented technologies.

Comprising social media researcher Bénédicte Jacobs and media artist Laure-Anne Jacobs, LarbitsSisters is known for exploring the intersections of art, technology, and social systems and has produced projects on traceability, data processing, network analysis, algorithms, automation, and interactivity.

The collective was recognized for its BitSoil Popup Tax & Hack Campaign, an internet-based installation that deploys its activity both online and offline. The project uses trolling social media bots on Twitter to make users aware of the value of their data and is also an offline installation designed as a critical tool to restore a fair balance to the Internet economy.

“LarbitsSisters’ project BitSoil Popup Tax & Hack Campaign engages with one of the most pressing problems of the digital economy: the inequalities involved in the mining of user data by tech companies for profit,” said juror Christiane Paul, a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. “Both playful and thoughtful, the work uses the TOR network, AI, bots, and the Twitter platform in very creative ways to raise awareness and actively involve users in a campaign addressing these inequalities. Moreover, BitSoil Popup Tax & Hack Campaign manages to successfully translate a very abstract process into an aesthetically sophisticated installation.”

The artists will be granted a three-city expense-paid exhibition tour beginning at the 2018 Prix Ars Electronica Festival in Austria. It will also travel to the Big House Contemporary Art Center in Wuhan in October, then to a location in New York, which has yet to be announced, in January 2019. The exhibitions will mark the first time the work of LarbitsSisters will be on view in the US, China, and Austria.

The prize’s seven-person jury consisted of artist Cao Fei; Martin Honzik, director of the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria; Michael Xufu Huang, cofounder of the M Woods contemporary art museum in Beijing; Li Zhenhua, curator of the film sector of Art Basel Hong Kong; Christiane Paul, a curator at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Margit Rosen, director of the Collections Department, Archives & Research at the ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, Germany; and artist Qiu Zhijie, director of Experimental Art at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing.