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Future Generation Art Prize: meet the winner of the $100,00 award at the Venice Biennale

16 травня 2017

On Tuesday this week, Dineo Seshee Bopape was still putting the finishing touches to her  installation in the Venetian Palazzo Contarini Polignac. Behind the building’s exquisite 15th-century stone and marble façade, the 35-year-old had filled a wood-panelled room with several earthen plinths, and embellished them with small ceramic totems, herbs, gold leaf, feathers and crystals. On the balcony outside, she’d placed further earthen works that seemed to be trying to escape from the palazzo and out into the city. 

The pressure was on because Bopape is this year’s recipient of the Future Generation Art Prize, an award of $100,000, of which the artist receives $60,000 and can spend the other $40,000 delivering an artwork. It will be presented to her tonight (Thursday) at an extravagant party where, in previous years, Elton John has been the guest of honour. 

Bopape was chosen out of over 4000 applicants from 138 countries (later whittled down to 20 by an international jury) for work that is both highly personal, and political. It emerges from her questions about women’s rights and identities (there are uterus-like vessels among the totems, and the herbs are ones for menstrual conditions), and the post-colonial politics of her native South Africa. But she’s also indebted to the land art of the 1960s and 1970s, recalled in her choice of materials and preference to work straight onto the floor. 

Phoebe Boswell, a Kenyan who grew up in the Gulf, and later studied at the Slade and Central Saint Martins, has received the special award of $20,000 for an immersive, interactive installation, featuring animated and sometimes overwhelming wall-drawings of female nudes.

“I wanted to make a work about women who use their bodies to protest instead of just their voices,” she says. The resulting “army” (her words) of nine were both drawn and recorded by Boswell, from a refugee from Rwanda to an 81-year-old Londoner, as an investigation into power, action, pain and release.

The Future Generation Art Prize is aimed at emerging artists and is run by the Pinchuk Art Centre, which was established by the Ukrainian Victor Pinchuk in Kiev in 2006. Pinchuk, a billionaire (though not one at the very top of recently published lists), at first aimed to develop contemporary culture within Ukraine, but then moved towards a remit with a more international reach. 

As part of that broader outlook, the prize was first announced in New York in 2009. Since then the Centre’s artistic director, Bjorn Geldhof, has worked with partners all over the world to spread the word, and more recently, social media has played its part too. 

The overall winner is chosen from the 20 who get to show their work in the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev. Then those 20 are invited to the bathe in the spotlight of Venice (with a 21st being chosen only from Ukraine), some making new pieces that are site-specific to the Palazzo’s extraordinary spaces.

This year, for example, a roughly constructed rollercoaster by young American artist EJ Hill fills a courtyard – a metaphor for both the unpredicatability of life and current political conditions, and a deliberately disruptive, lashed-together intervention in this city of splendour and craft. 

Andy Holden, a British artist who delves into the language of cartoons in his moving image pieces, has created a surrealist, collaged installation in an upstairs room, where walls dotted with eyeballs seem to be continually observing the scene, and his own alternative universe converses with the existing trompe l’oeil of the palazzo.

“I don’t enter for prizes as a rule,” he says. “But they’d contacted me a few times. To be part of Venice is something no artist will turn down.” Holden is currently working on a major commission with Artangel, which will be shown in London in September. 

But among the 20 are exhibitors from countries including China, Colombia, Russia, Dominican Republic and Brazil. The work is universally good, and it’s a lesson to be learnt that such a democratic prize can achieve such high standards. Previous prize winners include the Brazilian Cinthia Marcelle (2010) who this year is representing her country in the Brazilian Pavilion in the main Biennale. In 2013, it went to the British/Ghanaian figurative painter Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, who is currently showing at the New Museum in New York. 

Bopape, who was born in Lempopo, creates her installations from the local soil, wherever she is working. “In Kiev, the earth she used began to crack, and then things started to grow, to show signs of life,” says Geldhof. “The material itself is political.”

In Venice, the soil is a product created from ground-down fibre – a something-from-nothing like Venice itself. For Bopape, a black South African, the earth is also the story of territory taken away by the white settlers, a situation which is not much nearer resolution, she says, even 20 years after Mandela’s presidency. 

Bopape is initially going to use the prize to set up a studio in Johannesburg, but more importantly “to allow things to simmer. I’d like to have three months when I don’t read a single email. When I get to see the relationship between all the different works I’ve made. When I get bored, even.” 

The Future Generation Art Prize is at Palazzo Contarini Polignac, Venice, until 13 August 2017

Автор: Caroline Roux
Джерело: Telegraph