Art Market

Tiona Nekkia McClodden won the Whitney Museum’s $100,000 Bucksbaum Award.

Wallace Ludel
Sep 11, 2019 4:56PM, via Whitney Museum of American Art

Tiona Nekkia McClodden, I prayed to the wrong god for you., 2019. Multichannel video installation, color, sound; and six hand-carved tools in vitrine. Image courtesy the artist and Company Gallery, New York.

The Whitney Museum has selected Philadelphia-based interdisciplinary artist Tiona Nekkia McClodden as the recipient of its 2019 Bucksbaum Award. The Bucksbaum Award was introduced in 2000 and is awarded every two years to an artist who is participating in the concurrent Whitney Biennial. The winner receives a check for $100,000. Past winners include such greats as Pope.L (who was the most recent winner), Zoe Leonard, Mark Bradford, Michael Asher, and Raymond Pettibon.

McClodden’s work in the Biennial, titled I prayed to the wrong god for you (2019), is a mixed media installation featuring a six-channel video that depicts, among other things, a ritual dedicated to the Santería/Lucumi god Shango that involved the artist felling a cedar fir tree and carving tools from its wood. McClodden then travelled with these carved objects through the United States, Cuba, and Nigeria.

In an interview with Artforum earlier this year, McClodden said:

My installation for the Whitney Biennial is my way of confronting one of the major tools of colonialism forced on my lineage—enslaved Africans, black Southerners. My first, personal decolonization project is to decolonize the tool that was put into me without consent, working its way through my genealogy: European religion.

Installation view of the Whitney Biennial 2019 including, at center, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, I prayed to the wrong god for you, 2019. Photo by Ron Amstutz.

The Whitney Director Adam D. Weinberg said in a statement:

McClodden’s work is bold and original and her contribution to the Biennial is extraordinarily rich with cultural, historical, and spiritual resonances. I’m delighted that she is receiving the Bucksbaum Award, which was initiated by our longtime trustee Melva Bucksbaum and her family to encourage living artists and to highlight American artists of particular promise.

According to the press release, in the coming months McClodden will also be participating in a public program at the museum.

Wallace Ludel