The winners of the 30th Barclays L’Atelier Awards were announced yesterday. The art competition is the longest running in the country, and this year, for the first time, included entries from neighbouring African countries Botswana, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya. The competition is open to established and emerging young artists aged 21 to 35 with the objective of showcasing and growing their diverse talents through exposure and, for the winners, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to develop their practice abroad on residency. Dr. Paul Bayliss, Absa’s Art & Museum Curator says: “These coveted residencies are a critical part of the Barclays L’Atelier art competition, as they specifically further one of the event’s core objectives – fast-tracking the careers of the winning artists by exposing them to international opportunities.”
This year’s overall Barclays L’Atelier prize winner is Kai Lossgott (Pretoria) for his video installation Small and common matters. As part of his prize, Kai wins a six-month art residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, which includes return airfare, R150 000 cash for the residency and a solo exhibition at the Absa Gallery.
Kai’s 3-minute video explores people’s limited grasp of concepts outside of a human moment or even lifespan. His artist’s statement continues: “In seeking to further perception of ‘the tiniest thing’ visible to the naked eye, I speculate on the scientific pursuit of particles within the realm of the everyday. Invested with pragmatism, the microtopias in our back yards and pavements become a site for personal exploration. Where we place ourselves, or what position we inhabit in relation to what is bigger and smaller (the problem of scale or space), what is older or younger (the problem of time), and what is seemingly useful or useless (the problem of taxonomy) is fundamentally a problem of perception or aesthetics.
Natalie Moore (Johannesburg) was awarded the Gerard Sekoto Award, sponsored by Alliance Française, for the most promising artist with an annual income of less than R60 000 for her photographic triptych Once upon a time Jozi. As part of the Gerard Sekoto Award, Natalie wins a three-month art residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, which includes return airfare, a stipend and a travelling exhibition in South Africa.
Natalie’s photographic triptych Once upon a time Jozi is both a light hearted and didactic exploration of the generic fairytale within the African context. It takes a look at the archetypal mould of the world stage, by forcing Africa into that mould. The incongruence of the realism of the photographic medium and the whimsy of the fairytale also come into play, spotlighting the starkness of real life. The first image is indicative of the Princess and the Pea fairytale, which is merged with a creature from African folklore, namely the Tokolosh. The remaining two works the artist has left the interpretation thereof to the viewer.
The first merit award with a residency in Johannesburg as its prize was open to non-South Africans only. This was awarded to Kweku Ampadu Appah (Ghana) for his mixed media piece, Worn out family. The second merit award, which boasts a residency at the Kuns: Raum Foundation, Sylt Quelle, in Germany as its prize, was open to all entrants and was awarded to Nina Kruger (Pretoria) for her wood installation entitled Those forgotten. The third merit award offering a residency at the Ampersand Foundation in New York, USA, was open to South Africans only and awarded to Nelmarie du Preez (Pretoria) for her piece To stab, a single-channel video with sound.
The other top 10 finalists’ work