|Ima-Abasi Okon. Pic: Photo: Georgia Lucas-Going.|
For artists working in the UK, the Turner prize, yearly, gives awards based on themes and trends in contemporary contents. Past winners include Damien Hirst (1995), Chris Ofili (1998), Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Helen Commock, Tai Shan and Oscar Murillo (2019), among others since 1984.
However, the 2020 edition has been canceled, and its place, the shortlisted artists are to get bursaries in cash without any obligation attached. On Thursday, the prize organisers, Tate Britain announced the names of eligible artists to get cash awards in place of the 2020 canceled competition. Others listed for the bursary include Oreet Ashery, Shawanda Corbett, Jamie Crewe, Sean Edwards, Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Imran Perretta, Alberta Whittle and an organisation, Arika.
Alex Farquharson, the director of Tate Britain and chair of the jury said the list of recepients represented “the exceptional talent found in contemporary British art.” The 2020 edition was the first time Turner Prize has been cancelled in 20 years. Reason: the jury could not meet and visit the artists in the process of shortlist due to the pandermic restriction. The winner, was to take home a £25,000 prize, in December.
Working in London and Amsterdam, Okon graduated from the London College of Communication with a BA in Graphic Media Design Illustration in 2005, followed by an MA in Communication Design from Central Saint Martins College in 2008.
Excerpts from her bio: Okon is interested in language and sound and how meanings are produced; her work in print, sculpture and film explores variables, and often culminates in complex, layered arrangements which expose cultural structures and identity representation. Okon has achieved a number of awards and residencies and her film screenings and group exhibitions have taken place globally.
Exhibitions include, There’s Something In The Title that’s More Interesting than the Finality of (A Title), The Showroom, London (2018); PRAISE N PAY IT/PULL UP, COME INTO THE RISE, South London Gallery (2018); No Place to Spit, Set Space, London (2017); UNTITLED: Art on the Conditions of Our Time, New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2017); In This Soup We Swim, Kingsgate Project Space, London (2016); Changing City: Shifting Places, CCA Lagos, Nigeria (2016); Arena, Center of Contemporary Art, Poland (2014) and a number of screenings including at Akademie der Künst, Germany (2016); Mount Florida Studios, Glasgow (2016); Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany (2015); Atomic Pictures, Paris (2015).
Her 2014 solo exhibition, The Fountains Are Decorative and Are Not Water Play Areas, was part of the Supercollider Contemporary Arts Project in Blackpool, UK. In 2017 Okon worked with Iniva on a series of dialogues between herself and curator, Hansi Momodu-Gordon over a period of four months. The ‘Precarious Decades’ series explored curatorial and artistic practice framed by the experience of the diaspora in its examination of strategies of hope and subversion born out of collaboration and allegiance.
In 2018, Okon collaborated with Appau Jnr Boakye-Yiadom on Canine Wisdom for the Barking Dog – the Dog Done Gone Deaf, a piece for the 2018 Dak’Art Dakar Biennial.
Excerpt from Johnson Artur's bio: Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1964, it was there that her Russian mother, Nina, met the Ghanaian father, Thomas.
She has spent the past 30 years photographing the diverse experience of black people across the globe. For the majority of her recent career, she has been focused on representing black people in South London.
She has a collaborative attitude toward her work and makes close connections with her subjects as a way of respecting the vulnerability they show by letting her into their spaces. This process gives a sense of intimacy to her photographs. The photographs have an unfinished quality to them. Though some photos are posed, the attention Johnson Artur pays to each individual’s sense of self presentation lends an element of authenticity to the work.
At the 10th Berlin Biennale, in 2018, where her work was featured, Johnson Artur presented images from the Black Balloon Archive, alongside a new video titled Real…Times (2018) that interweaves scenes of black life, some of which Johnson Artur chanced upon in the street. Like the footage of the middle-aged man being handcuffed and hauled into a police van, maintaining innocence of whatever he’d been accused of, while friends and passersby looked on in consternation. Or the West Indian men and women gathered in a public square in South London to both celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the Windrush generation—the Caribbean settlers whose arrival in the U.K. marked the start of postwar mass migration—and protest how the government’s self-described “hostile environment” policy for immigrants now threatens to withdraw the status of British subject from those same settlers.