In Loophole of Retreat, Leigh will explore narratives of communal nurture, resilience, and resistance. The title of the exhibition and related public program is drawn from the writings of Harriet Jacobs (1813–1897), a formerly enslaved abolitionist who pseudonymously published an account of her life. It refers to the grueling seven years she spent hiding from her master in a tiny crawl space beneath the rafters of her grandmother’s home—an act of astonishing fortitude that carved out a space of sanctuary and autonomy in defiance of an unjust reality.
In October Leigh was selected as the winner of the Hugo Boss Prize 2018 from a short list of six finalists that also included Bouchra Khalili, Teresa Margolles, Emeka Ogboh, Frances Stark, and Wu Tsang. The members of the 2018 jury were Dan Fox, Editor-at-Large, Frieze magazine; Sofía Hernández Chong Cuy, Director, Witte de With, Rotterdam; the late Bisi Silva, former Artistic Director, Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos; Susan Thompson, Associate Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Joan Young, Director, Curatorial Affairs, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. The 2018 jury was chaired by Nancy Spector, Artistic Director and Jennifer and David Stockman Chief Curator, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. For the fully jury statement, visit guggenheim.org/press.
Simone Leigh (b. 1967, Chicago) lives and works in Brooklyn. Solo presentations of her work have been hosted at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Marcus Garvey Park, New York (organized by the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; both 2016–17); New Museum, New York (2016); Atlanta Contemporary Art Center; Stuyvesant Mansion, Brooklyn (organized by Creative Time, New York; both 2014); and The Kitchen, New York (2012). The artist’s work has also been featured in numerous group exhibitions, including the Berlin Biennial (2018); Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon, New Museum, New York (2017–18); Unconventional Clay: Engaged in Change, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri (2016); Greater New York, MoMA PS1, Long Island City (2015–16); Radical Presence: Black Performance in Contemporary Art, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (traveled to Grey Art Gallery, New York University; Studio Museum in Harlem, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco [2012–15]); The Dakar Biennial (2014); Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2012); 30 Seconds Off an Inch, Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2009–10); The Future as Disruption, The Kitchen, New York; and Intersections: Defensive Mechanisms, Abrons Art Center, New York (both 2008). Her work has been recognized with awards and honors from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, New York (2018); Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2017); A Blade of Grass, New York (2016); John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, New York (both 2016); Creative Capital, New York (2012); and the Joan Mitchell Foundation (2011).
Hugo Boss Prize History
Since its inception in 1996, the Hugo Boss Prize has been awarded to twelve innovative and influential contemporary artists: Matthew Barney (1996), Douglas Gordon (1998), Marjetica Potrč (2000), Pierre Huyghe (2002), Rirkrit Tiravanija (2004), Tacita Dean (2006), Emily Jacir (2008), Hans-Peter Feldmann (2010), Danh Vo (2012), Paul Chan (2014), Anicka Yi (2016), and Simone Leigh (2018). The related exhibitions have constituted some of the most compelling presentations in the museum’s history. Previous finalists include Laurie Anderson, Janine Antoni, Cai Guo-Qiang, Stan Douglas, and Yasumasa Morimura in 1996; Huang Yong Ping, William Kentridge, Lee Bul, Pipilotti Rist, and Lorna Simpson in 1998; Vito Acconci, Maurizio Cattelan, Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, Tom Friedman, Barry Le Va, and Tunga in 2000; Francis Alÿs, Olafur Eliasson, Hachiya Kazuhiko, Koo Jeong-a, and Anri Sala in 2002; Franz Ackermann, Jeroen de Rijke and Willem de Rooij, Rivane Neuenschwander, Simon Starling, and Yang Fudong in 2004; Allora & Calzadilla, John Bock, Damián Ortega, Aïda Ruilova, and Tino Sehgal in 2006; Christoph Büchel, Patty Chang, Sam Durant, Joachim Koester, and Roman Signer in 2008; Cao Fei, Roman Ondák, Walid Raad, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul in 2010; Trisha Donnelly, Rashid Johnson, Qiu Zhijie, Monika Sosnowska, and Tris Vonna-Michell in 2012; Sheela Gowda, Camille Henrot, Hassan Khan, and Charline von Heyl in 2014; Tania Bruguera, Mark Leckey, Ralph Lemon, Laura Owens, and Wael Shawky in 2016, and Bouchra Khalili, Teresa Margolles, Emeka Ogboh, Frances Stark, and Wu Tsang in 2018
To see a timeline and a video on the history the Hugo Boss Prize, as well as an overview of past prize catalogues, visit guggenheim.org/hugobossprize.