The jury for the UK’s largest international contemporary art prize Artes Mundi has unanimously decided to award the prize to all six artists shortlisted this year, in recognition of this time of exceptional social and economic upheaval and to acknowledge the outstanding quality of their individual practices, and the powerfully relevant work that has been either been newly created or reconfigured especially for the exhibition.
Artists Firelei Báez (Dominican Republic), Dineo Seshee Bopape (South Africa), Meiro Koizumi (Japan), Beatriz Santiago Muñoz (Puerto Rico), Prabhakar Pachpute (India) and Carrie Mae Weems (USA) will each receive £10,000. (Top of page – Meiro Koizumi – Angels of Testimony)
There’s some precedent for this arrangement – in 2019, all the shortlisted artists for the Turner Prize shared the award.
The jury for Artes Mundi 9 comprises Cosmin Costinas, Executive Director and Curator of Para Site, Hong Kong and Artistic Director of Kathmandu Triennale 2020; Elvira Dyangani-Ose, Director of The Showroom gallery in London; and Rachel Kent, Chief Curator at Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. The six shortlisted artists were originally selected out of more than 700 nominations from 90 countries.
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Although the shortlist was first confirmed in September 2019—at a time when few could predict the global economic and social change the world was accelerating towards—it is no coincidence that the artists’ work all speaks to and resonates with the complex and challenging ideas and issues we need to address individually and collectively within our societies, concerning equity, representation, trauma and privilege.
The jurors commented “Reflecting on 2020 into the present, this has been a time of enormous social, political and economic upheaval, and as a jury, we have reached a collective, unanimous decision to award the Artes Mundi 9 Prize to all six participating artists: Firelei Báez, Dineo Seshee Bopape, Meiro Koizumi, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Prabhakar Pachpute and Carrie Mae Weems.”
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“We have done so in recognition of both the context in which their work is produced; and importantly, in recognition of each individual practice which is outstanding in merit, made especially, and powerfully relevant today.”
“Together the six presentations create a coherent and timely exhibition, addressing a range of issues and topics for consideration. Furthermore, 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. Collectively, the exhibition speaks to their distinctive and powerful voices in ways that are rich, thoughtful and rewarding.”
Nigel Prince, Director of Artes Mundi said: “As director, and on behalf of the Artes Mundi staff team and Board of Trustees, I express my thanks to the jurors for all their work and offer heartfelt congratulations to Firelei, Dineo, Meiro, Prabhakar, Beatriz and Carrie. Working together over these last 18 months has been a most rewarding experience and has resulted in a timely and enriching exhibition that visually and conceptually speaks with great insight and potency.”
Dominican Republic-born and New York-based artist Firelei Báez celebrates Diasporic narrative and black female subjectivity, imagining new possibilities for the future through her large-scale dynamic, fantastical and intricate paintings. Through a new immersive installation, South African artist Dineo Seshee Bopape materially and conceptually engages with place, history and the consequences of the trans-Atlantic slave-trade through objects, ritual and song, presenting art as embodying the potential for acknowledgement and reconciliation.
Japanese artist Meiro Koizumi’s haunting video triptych Angels of Testimony tackles the legacy of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), dismantling cultural taboos and initiating healing by acknowledging shameful histories.
Puerto Rican artist Beatriz Santiago Muñoz’s five film and video works poetically interweave to create a layered installation of non-linear narratives considering the histories and continuing economic, political and environmental forces that shape Puerto Rico, its landscape, people and culture.
Prabhakar Pachpute—whose family worked in the coal mines of central India for three generations—draws on shared cultural heritage with the Welsh mining community to create an installation of paintings, banners and objects that harness the iconography of protest and collective action.
Work by American artist Carrie Mae Weems, celebrated for her powerful engagement with Black and female representation, encompasses cultural identity, racism, class, political systems and the consequences of power. A new photographic installation reflects on the late civil rights activist John Robert Lewis within the context of the present, while a selection of large-scale pieces from her recent public art campaign interrogates the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on communities of colour while offering messages of hope.
Work by all six of the winning artists is currently on display at National Museum Cardiff and Chapter until 5 September 2021 with a screening programme of additional works by artists at g39 from July to September.