Finalists of the Fivex Art Prize – Australia’s first billboard art prize

Six artists and creatives have been selected as finalists for the $30,000 inaugural Fivex Art Prize from over 500 entries from around the country. Congratulations to Magdalene Carmen (VIC), Catherine Clover (VIC), Phi Do (VIC), Deborah Kelly (NSW), Daniel Kotsimbos (VIC), and Kent Morris (VIC), who each receive $1,000 for their achievement.

The six works explore themes, including city life and the natural world. They will be on view at intervals throughout the day, interspersed with, and surrounded by, commercial advertising content, prompting city-goers to engage with their built environment and the new media that dominates it in a different way.

Conceived and presented by the Fivex Foundation, Australia’s first prize for innovative digital billboard art, sponsored by Australia’s leading premium digital billboard company, QMS Media, has been established for creative individuals of all disciplines to explore this new medium and examine the dynamic relationship between art and contemporary street culture.

The shortlisted submissions were selected by a judging panel of artists, curators and outdoor media specialists: Alessio Cavallaro, Creative Producer, Fivex Art Prize, and media art curator; Jane Devery, Curator, Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Victoria; Gary Deirmendjian, artist; Liss Fenwick, Public Art Project Lead, Melbourne City Council; and, Charmaine Moldrich, CEO, Outdoor Media Association.

Deirmendjian said: ‘Unrestricted by theme or source media, the finalist works vary greatly in style and content but all rose to the challenge of this new medium with dynamic responses to the physical context and nature of the electronic boards themselves – as a source of emanating light and colour and potential for public engagement. Although we judges were challenged by the inherent diversity between the entries, we relished the opportunity to consider work from such a vast spectrum of image-makers – including contemporary art, photomedia, graphic design and street art.’

Some of the shortlisted works are site-specific, such as new-media artist Daniel Kotsimbos’ Peak Frequency which presents sonic patterns recorded at Melbourne Square Crossing as a beautiful data visualisation, and multidisciplinary designer and illustrator Phi Do’s Move in All Directions, a stylised tribute to the city’s geometric layout and its only diagonal crossing.

Designer, photographer and poet Magdalene Carmen’s Hello Sign / Hey Sign celebrates urban Melbourne by combining the simple, distinct forms of road and construction signs with smartphone aesthetics.

The finalists also explore nature’s presence within the city, in particular Australia’s native birdlife. Artist Catherine Clover’s Song Cycle is centred on the phonetic words used by bird field guides to approximate the bird songs of the Red Whattlebird and the Common Starling, and artist and curator Kent Morris includes Australia’s native songbird the Magpie in City of the Future to highlight the Indigenous history of Melbourne’s landscape and its future. Artist Deborah Kelly’s Evolutionary Exuberance captures the complex inter-species entanglement of city life whilst reminding viewers of the natural world’s resilience and promise of harmony.

Moldrich added: ‘It was so wonderful to be part of this project because it was a meeting of two worlds I love – art and city signage. Both shape our cities and our consciousness by interpreting the world we inhabit. Each finalist has tapped into this reality through different lenses to create work that is deeply relevant today.’

The winning work will be announced on Monday 30 March and presented alongside the finalists from 30 March until 3 May on two large digital billboards prominently located at the corner of Flinders and Elizabeth streets in the heart of Melbourne.

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