West Africa

Ekow Eshun Announced As Winner Of The AAH Curatorial Prize For Exhibitions 2023 

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Ghanaian-British curator Ekow Eshun has been announced as the winner of the Association for Art History’s Curatorial Prize for Exhibitions 2023. The prize, awarded in London, was in recognition of Eshun’s exhibition ‘In the Black Fantastic’ (29 June –⁠ 18 September 2022) at the Hayward Gallery. 

Image courtesy of AAH

The judging panel for this year’s Association for Art History’s Curatorial Prize for Exhibitions 2023 includes:

  • Alex Farquharson, Director, Tate Britain
  • Axel Ruger, Secretary and Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Arts
  • Saad-Edine Said, CEO and Artistic Director, New Art Exchange
  • Deborah Swallow, Märit Rausing Director, The Courtauld Institute of Art

The exhibition ‘In the Black Fantastic’ was praised by the judging panel for being:

a very well realised and timely large-scale survey of the allegorical uses of fantasy by artists either side of the Atlantic (especially the U.S. and Britain) to evoke imaginative, liberatory escape routes out of the historic and present-day realities of anti-Black racism.” They continued, “The focus on a relatively small number of artists, presented at scale in their own spaces, made for an appropriately visually and spatially immersive experience through these speculative, alternative worlds. For audiences new to the subject, it was a compelling introduction to a rich field of creative and theoretical practice that has gathered particular momentum in contemporary art over the past decade or two.”

Installation view of Cauleen Smith, In the Black Fantastic at Hayward Gallery, 2022. 
Image courtesy of Zeinab Batchelor/ the Hayward Gallery. 

The selected projects are often assessed in terms of four factors: how the exhibition demonstrates excellence in art historical research, in terms of rigour, originality or impact on the field; whether the exhibition demonstrates the contemporary relevance of art and its histories; whether it communicates effectively with its intended audiences and whether it will help to broaden and make more inclusive the subject and practice of art history. 

The Association for Art History’s Curatorial Prize, sponsored by Cromwell Place, is in its second year and is part of a larger programme led by the Association for Art History. 

Gregory Perry, CEO of the AAH commented: 

We created the curatorial prizes to highlight the excellent work that curators in art museums and galleries do to bring our cultural heritage to light for broad audiences.  We all benefit from the research they undertake and the presentation of works of art and ideas that are part of curated exhibitions. With the awards, we want to both recognise curatorial excellence and emphasis that the great experiences we have in exhibitions start with curators engaging in art historical research.” 

The prize is part of the Association’s effort to promote and advocate for the significance of excellent curatorial work. Elizabeth Dellert, Membership & Business Development Director at Cromwell Place, says of the initiative: 

Like the AAH, Cromwell Place is deeply committed to the support and championing of professionals in the arts; and as such, are thrilled to sponsor this year’s AAH Curatorial Prize, with a view to bringing more attention to the awards programme in years to come.

Author

Iyanuoluwa Adenle is a graduate of Linguistics and African Languages from Obafemi Awolowo University. She is a creative writer and art enthusiast with publications in several journals. She is a writer at Art News Africa.

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