Cardiffâs Artes Mundi 9 prize to be split between six nominees
One of the most important art prizes in the UK is to be split between its six nominees after the Artes Mundi 9 judging panel said it wanted to acknowledge the âexceptional social and economic upheavalâ of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Artes Mundi â the Cardiff-based biennial exhibition that shows political art â will give Â£10,000 awards to the South African multimedia artist Dineo Seshee Bopape, Puerto Ricoâs Beatriz Santiago MuÃ±oz, the Dominican Republic-born artist Firelei BÃ¡ez, the American photographer Carrie Mae Weems, Indiaâs Prabhakar Pachpute and the Japanese artist Meiro Koizumi.
The usual Â£40,000 individual prize â the largest visual art prize in Britain â was scrapped by the judging panel, which included curators Elvira Dyangani-Ose, Rachel Kent and Cosmin Costinas.
In a joint statement, the panel said they reached a âcollective, unanimous decisionâ to award the Artes Mundi 9 prize to all six participating artists, whose work they said was âpowerfully relevant todayâ.
A statement read: âEach 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.â
Nigel Prince, the director of Artes Mundi, who chairs the judging panel, said the decision had been made after hours of debate among the jurors, who wanted to âacknowledge the context in which the artists were workingâ and, in particular, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
âThe work deals with all sorts of issues that have been accelerated into the social consciousness during the pandemic: privilege and racism and injustices and social inequalities and representation and all of these big issues,â he said.
The award had been well reviewed, with the Guardianâs Adrian Searle picking out Koizumiâs three-channel The Angels of Testimony, which focuses on a man who relives the atrocities he witnessed as a Japanese soldier in China and Okinawa, as the standout work. Searle said it âoverwhelms everything else in Artes Mundiâ.
BÃ¡ezâs paintings were described as âgreat, hectic, explosive thingsâ, and Bopapeâs clay and soil drawings were praised, too. MuÃ±ozâs short films show ing Puerto Rico in the aftermath of 2017âs Hurricane Maria, meanwhile, were described as difficult to follow.Artes Mundi 9 review â wide-ranging show dominated by one devastating work Read more
Prince confirmed the extra Â£20,000 prize money had come from the funds that had been saved by not flying in and hosting artists and judges for the award.
Artes Mundi is the latest British art prize to not name an outright winner.
When the Baltic in Gateshead launched its biennial award for emerging artists in 2016, it confirmed there would be no winner or awards ceremony, with each artist being given a Â£30,000 commission and a 13-week exhibition.
In 2019, the Turner Prize was awarded to Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo and Tai Shani after they appealed to the judges to split it evenly in a âsymbolic gesture of cohesionâ rather than pick out a definitive winner.
For last yearâs cancelled Turner Prize, Â£10,000 âTurner bursariesâ were awarded to deserving artists . It usually offers Â£25,000 to the winner.
Prince said it was too early to say if the next Artes Mundi, which marks its 20th anniversary, would also be evenly split.