Kapwani Kiwanga won Canada’s top art prize, the Sobey Art Award.
Kapwani Kiwanga in her installation at the National Gallery of Canada. Photo by miv photography, courtesy National Gallery of Canada.
Kapwani Kiwanga, an artist whose practice spans conceptual, performance, and installation art, has been awarded Canada’s top prize for young artists. At a ceremony on Wednesday night at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the artist was named the recipient of the 2018 Sobey Art Award, receiving a $C100,000 prize. The four other finalists—Joi T. Arcand, Jordan Bennett, Jeneen Frei Njootli, and Jon Rafman—will each receive $C25,000.
Kiwanga’s installations, sculptures, and videos often reference her training in the social sciences and anthropology and her experience as a documentary filmmaker. Her work often underlines and upends power structures and systems of control, laying bare legacies of colonialism. Born in Hamilton, Ontario, and based in Paris, she is represented by the Parisian gallery Galerie Jérôme Poggi and Galerie Tanja Wagner in Berlin. Earlier this year she won the Frieze Artist Award.
In a statement, 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 honored to be included amongst this group of talented artists whose strong voices remind us of art's potential to both move and challenge.
Kiwanga is the 15th winner of the Sobey Art Award, which launched in 2002 as a biannual prize before becoming annual in 2006. Past winners include many of the best-known Canadian contemporary artists, such as Brian Jungen, Annie Pootoogook, David Altmejd, Raphaëlle de Groot, and Duane Linklater.
Kapwani Kiwanga, Simple Enclosure, 2018 Installation view, 2018 Sobey Art Award exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada, paint, wood, glass, and drywall. Courtesy of the artist, photo © NGC, Ottawa.