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2020 Henrike Grohs Art Award finalists emerge

By Omiko Awa
03 May 2020   |   3:38 am
Akwasi Bediako Afrane (Ghana), Jackie Karuti (Kenya) and Sabelo Mlangeni (South Africa) have emerged finalists for the 2020 Henrike Grohs Art Award.

2020 Henrike Grohs Art Award

Akwasi Bediako Afrane (Ghana), Jackie Karuti (Kenya) and Sabelo Mlangeni (South Africa) have emerged finalists for the 2020 Henrike Grohs Art Award.

While each iteration of the award ceremony is celebrated at different biennale or major art events on the continent, due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, organisers of the award have promised to announce the winners through a different platform next week.

The winner will receive a cash prize of €20.000 aside €10.000 for the production of a publication on the winner’s works. Two artists will be selected as runners up and will be awarded a cash prize of €5.000 each. 

The finalists emerged from a keenly contested competition with jurists consisting, Paula Nascimento (architect and independent curator, Angola), Gabi Ngcobo (curator and educator, South Africa) and Sarah Rifky (writer and curator, Egypt).

According to the publicist, Katja Kellerer, the award is a roving biennial art prize conceived by the Goethe-Institut and the Grohs family in memory of the former Head of Goethe-Institut in Abidjan, Henrike Grohs, who was among the causalities of the March 2016 terrorist attack in Côte d’Ivoire.

The prize is awarded biennially to visual artists or group of visual artists living and working in the African continent.

Akwasi Bediako Afrane, one of the finalists, explores the idea of augmentation and extensions between technological gadgets and humans. He works with discarded electronic gadgets, which he refers to as ‘amputees.’ He refashions and repurposes these amputees into machines and micro-organisms he describes as ‘TRONS.’ These TRONS, become potential platforms and media for reflection, engagement and interactions. His TRONS, stripped bare of their familiar housing become mechanical gizmos subsumed with the consciousness of previous owners of these gadgets and himself.

Jackie Karuti practice is largely experimental and employs the use of new media through drawings, video, installations and performance art. Her work is founded on ideas around knowledge production and accessibility as well as the depths of possibility enabled by radical imagination.

An alumnus of Àsìko, a roaming pan-African art school established by the late Bisi Silva, Karuti works redresses the frequently outdated or non-existent artistic and curatorial curricula at tertiary institutions across Africa. Karuti’s work has been exhibited widely most recently in 2019 at The Lofoten International Art Festival in Svolvær, Norway as well as in 2018 at the Dak’Art Biennial in Dakar, Senegal. Other projects that respond to her practice include programming the Out- Film Festival in Nairobi between 2016 and 2018.

Sabelo Mlangeni works mainly in a black and white format. His photographs capture the intimate, everyday moments of communities in contemporary South Africa. His works have been widely exhibited locally and internationally.