BusinessDay

Spotlight on Dafe Oboro, Belinda Kazeem-Kaminski

…as Art X, Access Corporation reward Access ART X Prize winners

While the 2022 edition of Art X Lagos, an annual and premier art expo in West Africa, has come and gone, the attendees, galleries and artists will not forget the event in a hurry because of the quality exposures, deals, networking and mentorships platforms it offered for the three days it held.

Among the many exciting events of the art fair, the Access ART X Prize is one sought-after by many, especially budding artists because of its skill honing, international exposure and empowerment potential.

The prize, which is now in its seventh edition, is an annual award for emerging artists in Nigeria. Due to the success of the award so far and the need to impact a wider African artist community, Art X; the organisers and Access Corporation; the sponsors, expanded the award to include Africa and the Diaspora artists.

Hence, the award is now the leading art prize in Nigeria and Africa.

Following the expansion, the 2022/23 edition received entries that were six times more than the previous years and from artists across 50 countries covering Africa and the diasporas.

Also, due to the high level of creativity by the artists, a team of international jury almost found it difficult to select winners across the two categories of Nigeria and Africa Diasporas winners, scaling down from over 1000, to Top 20 and To 10 finalists.

The team included; Peju Layiwola, a professor, artist, art historian and writer; Victor Ehikhamenor, multimedia artist, writer and founder of Angels and Muse; Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, founder and artistic director of SAVVY Contemporary, Berlin and Sonsbeek 20–24; Maria Varnava, founder and director of Tiwani Contemporary; Gabi Ngcobo, artist, educator and curatorial director of the Javett Art Center at the University of Pretoria (Javett-UP); and Alessio Antoniolli, director of Gasworks & Triangle Network, London.

After thorough work, two winners emerged; one for Nigeria and another for Africa Diasporas categories respectively.

Following that on Friday November 25, 2022, Art X and Access Corporation announced the winners at an event, which was held at the bank’s headquarters in Lagos, physically and hybrid for other Africans and the diasporas who could not attend.

At the event, Dafe Oboro was announced as the Nigeria winner, while Belinda Kazeem-Kaminski won the Africa/Diaspora category.

With their feats, both artists have each won a $10,000 grant towards an exhibition at ART X Lagos 2023, 3-month residency at Gasworks, London for the Nigeria winner and 3-month residency at Yinka Shonibare’s GAS Foundation, Lagos for the Africa/Diaspora winner.

They will also enjoy mentoring, support and cultural exchange opportunities.

Both artists, who joined the hybrid version of the event, appreciated the organizers and fellow contestants, who they described as winners also. While the winning has helped Dafe to conquer fears of entering awards and lack of confidence, the award for Belinda, who was emotional, has opened many opportunities and fired her passion to impact lives.

Meanwhile, the four other finalists for the Nigeria Award are: Tolulope Ami-Williams, Kingsley Ayogu, Neec Nonso and Matthew Eguavoen, and the four other finalists for the Africa/ Diaspora Award include: Lois Arde-Acquah (Ghana); Louisa Marajo (France/Martinique); Mallory Lowe Mpoka (Canada); and Yetunde Olagbaju (United States).

Expressing her delight over the success of the art prize and the quality the prize brought to the table, Tokini Peterside-Schwebig, founder and CEO of ART X said: “We are delighted to present this prized opportunity to these two exceptional artists – Dafe and Belinda – who are unique in their perspectives but are united in their ambition to shift narratives about Africa and its global Diaspora.

“Our shared objective with Access Corporation, through this Prize, is to reinforce emerging artists at this pivotal stage in their careers, and we aspire over time to build a core group of artists for Nigeria, Africa and the Diaspora, with the potential to become truly transformational, not just within the arts ecosystem, but within our broader communities at a social, national, continental and global level. We look forward to working closely with these artists on their development in the coming months, and anticipate that they will make the most of this opportunity, which culminates in their exhibitions at ART X Lagos 2023.”

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Speaking at the winners’ announcement event, Chioma Afe, group head, retail, marketing and analytics, Access Bank, commended the organizers for growing the art fair and surpassing previous editions, while assuring the bank’s commitment to the partnership for the fair.

She also noted that the prize witnessed entries from all the markets where Access Bank operates, hence enabling the bank to offer platforms that connect communities it serves to the world.

“The job we do at Access Bank will come to nothing if we do not put smiles on the faces of people and Access Art X Prize enables us to do that,” Access Bank’s group head, retail, marketing and analytics, said.

Also speaking at the event, Jumoke Sonwo, this year’s prize curator, commended the quality of the entries, passion for arts and the healthy rivalry among the artists across the two categories.

Dafe Oboro, the Nigeria winner, is a 28-year-old artist, who works predominantly in photography and film. Drawing motifs from fashion and popular culture, Dafe uses evocative sound and imagery to contemplate questions of masculinity, movement across time and space, and the socio-political state of contemporary Nigeria, and greater Africa. Dafe was the 2020 recipient of the film prize at The Future Awards Africa, and a 2020 nominee for Dazed Magazine’s Dazed100 list of people shaping youth culture. Dafe’s film work has been screened at various venues and festivals internationally.

On the other hand, Belinda Kazeem-Kamiński, the Africa/Diaspora winner, is a Vienna-based writer, artist, and researcher, whose works manifest through a variety of media. Rooted in Black feminist theory, she has developed a research-based and process-oriented investigative practice that deals with the condition of Black life in the African diaspora. Belinda has exhibited at various solo and group exhibitions globally and has won several notable international prizes.