Skip to main content

Concordia studio arts and cinema alumna awarded the Prix Giverny Capital

Malena Szlam was selected due to the unique language, originality, and creative force of her work
May 3, 2024
An artist's installation of an array of colourful screens in a darkened room
“It is so special to receive an acknowledgment of my artistic trajectory and feel part of Quebec’s cultural ecosystem.” | Image: Chronogram of Inexistent Time, by Malena Szlam, 2008.

This year marks the tenth edition of the prestigious Prix Giverny Capital, a $10,000 grant awarded to a Quebec-based visual artist every two years.

For 2024 honoree Malena Szlam, MFA 10, the prize is especially meaningful. Szlam recently became a Canadian citizen after a ‘difficult and lengthy’ immigration process.

“It is so special to receive an acknowledgment of my artistic trajectory and feel part of Quebec’s cultural ecosystem after living and working in Montreal for almost 20 years. I am so grateful to the jury.”

Jurors for the prize include Marie-Ève Beaupré, Florence-Agathe Dubé Moreau, and François Letourneaux, as well as Annie Gérin, dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts.

“It is an honour to receive this prize, which highlights contemporary artists and the importance of sustained creative work,” says Szlam.

Black and white photo of a smiling woman wearing a scarf and a large feathered winter hat Malena Szlam | Photo by Johan Legraie

From Chile to Montreal

Szlam was born in Chile to Argentinian parents who were strongly connected to the arts, cinema and critical reflection. After earning a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from the University of Art and Social Sciences in Santiago, she moved to Montreal, where a friend recommended applying to Concordia’s Master of Fine Arts (MFA) program.

Szlam contacted Lynn Hughes, the department chair at that time. She met with Hughes and presented her portfolio, at which point Hughes encouraged her to apply for an MFA in both Open Media and Film Production.

Choosing to major in film, Szlam was soon introduced to the film collective Double Negative by a classmate — filmmaker and collective co-founder Daïchi Saïto.

“I became part of the collective. I was fascinated with the universe of analogue filmmaking, experimental cinema and moving image art,” she says. “I couldn’t have imagined this as a possible future back in Chile.”

Diptych image of artist's work: on the left, a filmstrip image of the moon at twilight, on the right, a sliver of moon above a desert landscape. Left: Lunar Almanac, 2013. Right: ALTIPLANO, 2018. | Images courtesy of the artist

Exploring the relationships between science, art and cinema

Szlam’s works reimagine the connections between human beings and the natural world. Her films, installations and photographs are produced in 35 mm, 16 mm, Super 8 and digital formats.

As part of her recent efforts, Szlam has been filming ancient volcano remnants in northeastern Australia for the project, "Towards a Counter-Cartography of Volcanic Time." She is also capturing new earth and forest formations surrounding active volcanoes in southern Chile.

Her new three-channel video and sound installation, Archipelago of Earthen Bones, is currently featured at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal. The installation is a collaboration with Australian artist Lawrence English, who created original soundscapes for the project from field, infrasonic and electromagnetic recordings of Earth.

“I’m extremely thankful for the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, both of whom helped make the project possible,” Szlam says.

The installation is part of a group exhibition, femmes volcans forêts torrents. It is curated by Prix Giverny juror Marie-Eve Beaupré and features nine Quebec-based female artists.

Szlam’s films have been showcased at festivals such as the Toronto International Film Festival, the New Directors/New Films Festival, and the Media City Film Festival. She has also shown at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, which recently acquired some of her works. In 2021, the SBC Gallery of Contemporary Art in Montreal presented a first retrospective of her art.

Malena Szlam’s installation artwork, Archipelago of Earthen Bones, is on now until August 18 at the Musée d’arts contemporain de Montreal.

Explore your creativity at Concordia’s
Department of Studio Arts.


Back to top

© Concordia University