Emerging Voices Awards 2016 announced the winners.

Art Radar takes a look at the winner of the art category, Gareth Nyandoro, and speaks to runners-up Noor Abuarafeh and Syowia Kyambi about being shortlisted.

Gareth Nyandoro. Image Courtesy OppenheimerFunds.

Gareth Nyandoro. Image courtesy OppenheimerFunds.

Emerging Voices Awards

Justin Leverenz, Director of Emerging Market Equities at asset management company Oppenheimer Funds, first approached The Financial Times with the idea of setting up an award for art from emerging markets in 2014. According to their website, The Financial Times viewed this as an attractive proposal from the beginning, given the publication “has spent years reporting on and writing about the world’s rising economies, looking at their businesses, financial systems and governments”.

The FT/Oppenheimer Emerging Voices Awards, in its second edition in 2016, can be seen as a formalisation of the role that financial market research and speculation plays in the visibility of contemporary art practices globally. While there are many awards for “emerging artists”, the entry regulations to the Emerging Voices awards are rather dependent on the “emergent” nature of the country as opposed to the artist’s age or the curve of the artist’s career.

Financial Times Associate Editor and Emerging Voices Awards Chair of Judges Michael Skapinker, Art winner Gareth Nyandoro, Art judge and Director of Art Jameel Antonia Carver, Founder of the Emerging Voices Awards and Director of Emerging Markets Equities Justin Leverenz, 2015 Emerging Voices Art category winner Cristina Planas, Art finalist Noor Abuarafeh, Art finalist Syowia Kyambi. Image courtesy Emerging Voices Award.

Financial Times Associate Editor and Emerging Voices Awards Chair of Judges Michael Skapinker, Art winner Gareth Nyandoro, Art judge and Director of Art Jameel Antonia Carver, Founder of the Emerging Voices Awards and Director of Emerging Markets Equities Justin Leverenz, 2015 Emerging Voices Art category winner Cristina Planas, Art finalist Noor Abuarafeh, Art finalist Syowia Kyambi. Image courtesy Emerging Voices Award.

Emerging market nations are defined by the award organisers as having a Gross National Income of less than USD12,746 per capita. This means that works entered for each of the three categories of the award – art, film and fiction – have been created by a range of established, mid-career and young emerging artists, filmmakers and writers. This year there were 797 entries from Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. The three winners each receive a USD40,000 award and the runners-up in each category receive USD5,000.

Art Radar takes a look at the winner and runners-up of the art category.

Gareth Nyandoro – Winner

Gareth Nyandoro (b. 1982, Bikita) studied fine art in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare at the Polytechnic University in 2003, later completing a masters studies in Creative Art and Design at the Chinhoyi University of Technology, Zimbabwe, qualifying in 2008. He is currently a resident artist at the Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam.

Trained as a printmaker, Nyandoro developed his practice in the context of the scarcity of art materials in Zimbabwe’s capital, a situation which produced a resourceful painting, collage and sculpture practice marked by the material identity of the urban environments he inhabits. By inking, cutting, scratching and peeling layers of paper, Nyandoro creates uniquely textured surfaces of intricate designs in vivid monochromatic palettes that explore experiences of urbanity, displacement and alienation. Talking to FT, Nyandoro says:

The arrangement of objects I find on the street [in Harare] is an artwork in itself. […] I try to connect my work to its surroundings. It becomes part of the environment.

Gareth Nyandoro, 'musika wemaorange nemaloliepopu', 2014. Mixed media 110 x 144.5 x 55 cm. Image Courtesy Smac Gallery.

Gareth Nyandoro, ‘musika wemaorange nemaloliepopu’, 2014, mixed media, 110 x 144.5 x 55 cm. Image courtesy Smac Gallery.

Nyandoro’s practice is in dialogue with multiple traditions of national and international contemporary art, craft and design: recent work has incorporated posters found on the streets of Harare, working with material that occupies a privileged place in the collective imagination. Nyandoro’s work has been exhibited widely since his first group show at Gallery Delta in Harare in 2004.

In 2012, he presented his first solo exhibition “Mutariri” at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe. His most recent solo exhibition “Presentatie Gareth Nyandoro” showed at Galerie23, Stichting Beeldende Kunst in Amsterdam in 2015. His work was exhibited in South Africa for the first time in “TREK: Following Journeys” at SMAC Gallery in Cape Town in 2015, the same year he represented his country in the 56th Venice Bienniale.

Noor Abuarafeh – Runner-up

Noor Abuarafeh (b. 1986) lives between Beirut, Jerusalem and Switzerland, where she is currently studying for her MFA at the Ecole Cantonale d’art du Valais. After dropping out of Law school due to the upheavals of the Second Intifada (the period of intensified Israeli-Palestinian violence between 2000 and 2005) she later returned to university studies in visual art at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design. Speaking to Art Radar about her nomination, Noor said:

I’m happy to be shortlisted for this award as I find it a good opportunity to share my works with a wider audience. Also I had the chance to meet a great artist and people involved in art. This nomination gives the stories that I construct and their narratives ears to hear them.
Noor Abuarafeh, 'Observational Desire on a Memory that Remains', 2014. Image courtesy Noor Abuarafeh.

Noor Abuarafeh, ‘Observational Desire on a Memory that Remains’, 2014. Image courtesy the artist.

Intent on dismantling dominant framing of identity, race and gender, the work of Noor Abuarafeh approaches public and personal archives – oral stories, blogs, photographs, books – as artistic material, examining these elements by dissembling and reassembling them to create new allegorical readings. Speaking to Art Radar about the role of story-telling and writing in her art practice, Noor Abuarafeh stated:

I believe that art is not separated from others fields, and in my case I’m interested in art and literature, especially historical novels, whose subjects deal with history. This interest in historical novels came from the ability of this medium to mix fact and fiction, which I find elements of in the act of re-writing/ representing history.

Noor Abuarafeh participated in Ashkal Alwan’s one year HomeWorks programme in Beirut. In the last two years, she has been an artist-in-residence at Cité International des Arts in Paris, and at Tokyo Wonder Site in Tokyo, Japan. Her work Observational Desire on a Memory that Remains (2013) was nominated for the 2014 Young Artists of the Year Award.

Syowia Kyambi. 'Performance in Bremen', 2016. Photo credit Rahel Pasztor. Image Courtesy Syowia Kyambi.

Syowia Kyambi, ‘I Have Heard So Much About You’, 2016. Photo: Rahel Pasztor. Image courtesy the artist.

Syowia Kyambi – runner-up

Syowia Kyambi (b.1979, Nairobi) is a multimedia artist of Kenyan and German descent currently living and working in Kenya. Syowia graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago and has been the recipient of several awards and grants, including most recently the Art in Global Health Grant from the Wellcome Trust Fund in the United Kingdom. Working between performance, installation, writing and curatorial work, her practice explores how our emotional lives are informed by experiences of location and dislocation.

Syowia Kyambi, 'Between Us', 2014. Performance at The Godown Art Centre Nairobi. Image courtesy Syowia Kyambi.

Syowia Kyambi, ‘Between Us’, 2014. Performance at The Godown Art Centre Nairobi. Photo: James Muriuki. Image courtesy the artist.

Between April and July 2016 she completed a Delfina Foundation residency, where she developed Between Us (2013 –), a choreographed performance  presented in Dresden and Bremen in 2016/2017. Speaking to Art Radar about the impact the award will have on her practice, she stated:

The nomination is a way of being highlighted and recognised in a new dimension. I think I will be a little more visible. It also reaffirms to me that what I’m working on is important and that it’s ok not to be exceptionally commercial in my practice; that it’s ok to go against the grain.

Rebecca Close


Related topics: Emerging artists, Awards Ceremonies, Colonialism, Gender, Globalisation, Memory, Migration, Nationalism, Post-colonialism, Sexuality, German artist, Kenyan artist, Zimbabwe Artist, Palestinian Artist, Promoting art

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By Brittney

Brittney is a writer, curator and contemporary art gallerist. Born in Singapore and based in New York City, Brittney maintains a deep interest in the contemporary art landscape of Southeast Asia. This is combined with an equally strong interest in contemporary art from the Asian diasporas, alongside the issues of identity, transmigration and global relations.

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