Aesthetica Art Prize

Aesthetica Art Prize winners announced

Contemporary artists were once again celebrated at the Aesthetica Art Prize in York.

The awards aim to showcase innovative and contemporary artworks from the next generation of talented artists.

A Private View of the 2019 Art Prize Exhibition at York Art Gallery on March 7 saw the winners and short-listed artists celebrated.

Jenn Nkiru (UK) won the Main Prize, which included £5,000 prize money.

Maryam Tafakory (UK), won the Emerging Prize, receiving £1,000.

Commendations were presented to Ludivine Large-Bessette, Drop Out Bodies (France), and Teppei Yamada, Apart and / or Together (Japan).

Spectrum director Klair Bird was at the awards.

Aesthetica Art Prize
Installation shot of May Parlar’s work, Aesthetica Art Prize 2019

Homogenised culture versus the individual

This year’s artworks draw on both personal and universal narratives.

They examine themes ranging from technology and urbanisation to population growth and climate change.

The 18 shortlisted works posed the question: ‘In the age of globalisation, where culture is becoming homogenised and identity fluid, what does this all mean for the individual?’.

Aesthetica director Cherie Federico said: “Throughout the curation process there was a constant reminder of how the modern world is affecting our daily lives.

“I’m delighted that through the Prize, we can focus our efforts on global dialogues.

“The shortlisted works examine both the positives and negatives of the time in which we live.”

Aesthetica Art Prize
Jenn Nkiru, Rebirth is Necessary, 2017, UK. Courtesy of Aesthetica Art Prize and the artist.

The winners

Rebirth Is Necessary is the summation of filmmaker Jenn Nkiru’s loaded feelings and questions about black people.

It explores the black experience and the idea of black universality.

Created as a source of therapy and inspiration, it offers something that is visceral and soulful.

The soundtrack features James Baldwin, Sun Ra and Chance The Rapper, as well as quoted material from Alice Coltrane, Audre Lorde, Kwame Nkrumah and more.

Maryam Tafakory’s I Have Sinned a Rapturous Sin brings together fragments of Forugh Farrokhzad’s poem Sin.

It explores contradictory images of women and how religion portrays them.

With images of a male carder preparing cotton for a mattress, the film is set against religious clerics instructing women to suppress their sexual desires.

Having lived within and outside of an Islamic identify, Tafakory offers a collage of visual and textual materials that, at times, contradict each other.

Aesthetica Art Prize
Maryam Tafakory, I Have Sinned a Rapturous Sin, 2018, UK. Courtesy of Aesthetica Art Prize and the artist.

Aesthetica Art Prize

Hosted by the UK’s leading art and culture publication, Aesthetica Magazine, the Prize is a celebration of excellence in art from across the world.

Since its inception 12 years ago, it has supported a wealth of practitioners.

Finalists have gone on to exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, FOAM and The Photographers’ Gallery.

They have also gone on to win awards and gain exposure from Magnum Photos, BAFTA, and Channel 4.

The Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition runs until July 14 at York Art Gallery.

Winning works are presented alongside the 18 shortlisted artists and those longlisted for the 2019 Prize.

Spectrum Photographic printed work for five of the photographers involved in the exhibition:

  • May Parlar
  • Rebecca Reeve
  • Alec Von Bargen
  • Christiane Zschommler
  • Giulio Di Sturco

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