Six Winners Share Britain’s £60,000 Artes Mundi Prize
In an increasingly usual move, each of the nominees will receive a share of the contemporary art prize.
Prabhakar Pachpute, The march against the lie (1A) (2020). Acrylic and charcoal pencil on canvas. Courtesy the artist and Experimenter Gallery, Kolkata. Installation view: Artes Mundi 9. Photography: Stuart Whipps.
Six artists have together won Britain's Artes Mundi 9 Prize. The prize is ordinarily awarded to one established artist to help them develop a substantial body of work or consider new ideas.
The artists were shortlisted in September 2019, but the prize exhibition didn't open until 15 March this year because of the pandemic. It continues at the National Museum Cardiff and Chapter arts centre until 5 September.
In a statement, jurors Cosmin Costinas, Elvira Dyangani-Ose, and Rachel Kent said they arrived at the decision unanimously in response to what 'has been a time of enormous social, political and economic upheaval.'
'In creating new and ambitious bodies of work for Artes Mundi 9, each artist has demonstrated great resilience in overcoming the many, global obstacles that COVID-19 has presented,' they said.
All six artists punch up at different forms of oppression and exploitation.
Japanese artist Koizumi's video Angels of Testimony (2019) is based on testimony by Hajime Kondo about the rapes and murders of Chinese he carried out as part of Japan's occupying force during World War II. Now living in a care home and suffering from dementia, Kondo no longer remembers much of his previous testimony, a sad echo of Japan's refusal to officially acknowledge its war crimes.
Puerto Rican artist Santiago Muñoz's contribution also deals with the fallout of war. She is showing 16mm films shot on the still contaminated island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, which was used as a bombing range and training ground by the US Navy from the 1940s to 2003.
Pune-based Indian artist Pachpute's surreal illustrations on paper and banners on canvas take on the global mining industry and the exploitation of labour, which are pressing themes in his home of Chrandrapur, known as 'Black Gold City' for its rich coal seams. On Monday 26 July, Pachpute was announced the winner of the Derek Williams Trust Artes Mundi Purchase Prize, which enabled the National Museum Wales to acquire two of his works.
New York-based Dominican artist Baez paints colourful plant-hybrid figures, burning tires and more in acrylic and oil atop canvases printed with maps and architectural plans. Her works suggest resistance to colonial power.
South African conceptual artist Seshee Bopape has created paintings using soil and clay from sites in Africa, the U.S. and the U.K. that relate to the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
And African American photographer Weems is showing works relating to America's Civil Rights and Black Lives Matter movements. These include Repeating the Obvious, an installation of 39 copies of the same photograph that shows an African American youth in a hoodie, evoking the memory of Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead by George Zimmerman in Florida in 2012.
Awarding art prizes to all the nominees has become a strategy to help artists keep their heads above water since the outbreak of Covid-19. Canada's Sobey Art Award, for instance, gave CA $25,000 to each of the 25 longlisted artists instead of awarding $100,000 to one winner.
The 2019 Turner Prize was also shared four ways at the insistence of the nominees. —[O]