“The jury noted how Kapwani Kiwanga creates a visual language to reconsider complexities and peripheries of history. She points to fissures in our human narrative.
Kapwani Kiwanga is the winner of the 2018 Sobey Art Award, confirming her position as a rising star in the Canadian contemporary art scene. The award was announced at the annual Sobey Art Award gala held Wednesday evening at the National Gallery of Canada.
Upon receiving the award from Ursula Johnson, last year’s winner, Kapwani Kiwanga said:
“The Sobey Art Award is a humbling encouragement to continue to make work that asks us to look anew at society and its past while allowing us to imagine unbounded possibilities. The award affords me the opportunity to create conditions which will allow me to focus more intently on my work and push it further in the years to come. I am honoured to be included amongst this group of talented artists whose strong voices remind us of art’s potential to both move and challenge. I am thankful to all those who have believed, encouraged, supported, called into question, trusted, taken issue, pushed, shared, disputed, and cared.”
Kapwani Kiwanga is the fifteenth Canadian artist under 40 to win the distinguished annual award. The four other finalists were: Jordan Bennett, representing the Atlantic region; Jon Rafman, from Québec; Joi T. Arcand, representing the Prairies and the North and Jeneen Frei Njootli from the West Coast and Yukon. The 2018 Sobey Art Award Jury was impressed with Kapwani Kiwanga’s critically engaged and visually compelling work.
“The jury noted how Kapwani Kiwanga creates a visual language to reconsider complexities and peripheries of history. She points to fissures in our human narrative. Using archival materials and referencing anthropology, agriculture, and urban design, among other sources; she reveals global effects of the colonial project. In so doing, she addresses hidden authoritarian structures, institutional devices, and power imbalances to help us see the world differently.”
The members of the 2018 Sobey Art Award jury, chaired by Josée Drouin-Brisebois, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the National Gallery of Canada, are Heather Igloliorte, Independent Curator and Concordia University Research Chair in Indigenous Art History and Community Engagement, for the Atlantic Provinces; Jean-François Bélisle, Executive Director and Chief Curator, Musée d’art de Joliette, for the Quebec region; November Paynter, Director of Programs, Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto Canada, for the Ontario region; Kristy Trinier, Executive Director, Southern Alberta Art Gallery, for the Prairies and the North region; Melanie O’Brian, Director, Simon Fraser University Galleries, for the West Coast and Yukon; and international juror, Séamus Kealy, Director, Salzburger Kunstverein.
The Sobey Art Award aims to promote new developments in contemporary Canadian art and provide much needed financial support for artists as they grow their practice and develop their international network.
This year, a total of Can$240,000 in prize money was awarded to the overall winner, the four shortlisted artists, as well as the remaining twenty longlisted artists. In addition to the cash awards, three nominees from the longlist will take part in the Sobey Art Award Residencies Program — international art residencies funded by the Sobey Art Foundation.
The 2018 Sobey Art Award exhibition showcasing the work of all five shortlisted artists is on view at the National Gallery of Canada until February 10, 2019.