Kapwani Kiwanga Brings ‘Shade’ to Frieze New York

The artist is recipient of the fair’s inaugural Frieze Artist Award, supported by Luma Foundation 

Kapwani Kiwanga is the winner of the Frieze Artist Award, a major opportunity for an emerging artist launching at Frieze New York 2018.

The Paris-based artist will realize an open-air installation in Randall’s Island Park, exploring freedom of movement and architectures of exclusion, tentatively titled Shady.


Kapwani Kiwanga, 2016. Photo: Bertille Chérot

Kapwani Kiwanga, 2016. Photo: Bertille Chérot


Created with industrial metal and agricultural fabric and punctuated by holes and passageways, Shady will be an imposing structure, both inviting and obstructing movement. The artist’s choice of Shade Cloth, used in large-scale farming on the African continent and beyond, is a political one, intended to speak to the colonial appropriation of land from indigenous communities and the manipulation of the environment for economic gain. 


Kapwani Kiwanga, The Sun Never Sets, 2017. HD video, installation view at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg. Courtesy: the artist

Kapwani Kiwanga, The Sun Never Sets, 2017. HD video, installation view at Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg. Courtesy: the artist

‘Kapwani’s rigorous research and imaginative approach will confront audiences with the raw materials and elemental structures of power’, explains Artist Award curator Adrienne Edwards, ‘and ask poignant questions about our built environment and human histories of control.’

Hundreds of applications followed the open call for the Award in December, coming from more than 50 countries across the globe. Kiwanga’s winning proposal was chosen after a thorough selection process by a jury including artist Liam Gillick, SF MoMA’s Eungie Joo, Pablo León de la Barra of the Guggenheim, New York and Edwards herself, who added she was ‘thrilled to be launching the Artist Award at Frieze New York with such a strong, thought-provoking artist.’

Born in Canada in 1978, Kapwani Kiwanga has explored subjects as far reaching as space travel, anti-colonial struggles and geology in an expansive practice often rooted in her training in anthropology. Part documentary, part action, her works span installation, sound, video and performance, unsettling established narratives and creating spaces in which marginalized discourse can flourish.


Kapwani Kiwanga, pink-blue, 2017. Baker-Miller pink paint, white fluorescent lights, blue florescent lights, dimensions variable. Installation view at Power Plant, Toronto. Courtesy: the artist, Galerie Jérôme Poggi, and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin. Phot

Kapwani Kiwanga, pink-blue, 2017. Baker-Miller pink paint, white fluorescent lights, blue florescent lights, dimensions variable. Installation view at Power Plant, Toronto. Courtesy: the artist, Galerie Jérôme Poggi, and Galerie Tanja Wagner, Berlin. Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid

Reviewing her solo exhibition at the Power Plant, Toronto for frieze magazine, Frances Loeffler praised Kiwanga for skilfully exposing ‘the silent-yet-pernicious control that architecture exerts over our bodies and behaviour, and contemplates how we might resist it.’ Kapwani’s work is on view in ‘Stories for Almost Everyone’ at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, until and at the Esker Foundation, Calgary (both until May 6). In April, she opens a solo exhibition at Tramway, Glasgow as part of the Director’s Programme at Glasgow International 2018 (April 20—May 7).

The launch of the Artist Award in New York follows an established program of Artist Award commissions at Frieze London. The 2017 winner at the London fair was Kiluanji Kia Henda, whose two-part installation took the cult of Marxism-Leninism in Angola as its starting point. Previous award winners in London include Yuri Pattison (2016), Rachel Rose (2015) and Mélanie Matranga (2014). All projects can be explored here.

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