Kapwani Kiwanga creates works across installation, sound, performance, sculpture and video that marry her training in anthropology, comparative religion and documentary film with her interests in history, memory and storytelling. Presenting rigorous research in imaginative ways, Kiwanga intentionally confuses truth and fiction in her work to enable marginalized narratives to flourish. With a veracious appetite for exploring different pockets of knowledge, she has tackled subjects as far ranging as space travel, anti-colonial struggles, geology and disciplinary architectures.
Born in Hamilton, Kiwanga currently lives and works in Paris, France.
The artist long list for Ontario was incredibly strong this year, yet Kapwani Kiwanga stood out for the urgency of her research and the emotive, formal qualities of the art works that result. One juror described Kiwanga’s work as “necessary at this time”; a statement that sums up the experience of spending time with, sometimes within, her recent sculptural installations. Describing her works as “exit strategies,” Kiwanga investigates historic narratives in dialogue with contemporary realities and future perspectives, allowing us to look differently at existing structures. She is particularly interested in the continued force of colonization and how the dynamics of colonial heritage play out similarly across time and space. Kiwanga lives in Paris and has shown extensively in Europe. With more recent invitations to show in Canada and North America, Kiwanga’s practice has evolved to consider new audiences and cultural contexts. For Canada, Kiwanga's inclusion on the Sobey shortlist is a timely recognition of the voice and talent of an exceptional and internationally engaged artistic practice.
A Canadian artist of Pakistani and Ugandan Indian descent, Sameer Farooq’s practice creates community-based models of participation to re-imagine a material record of the present, enlisting the tools of installation, documentary filmmaking, photography, writing and methods of anthropology. The results are collaborative works that counterbalance how dominant institutions speak about our lives: as a counter-archive, additions to a museum collection or a buried history made visible.
He completed an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design (2014), a BFA from the Gerrit Rietveld Academie (2005), and a BA from McGill University (2000). Farooq has exhibited internationally and nationally, and recent projects include an installation at the Aga Khan Museum and a residency with Open Studio in Toronto, as well as a forthcoming exhibition inaugurating the University of Nevada Reno’s new arts centre.
Maggie Groat is a visual artist who utilizes a range of media including works on paper, sculpture, textiles, site-specific interventions and publications. Her research surrounds site-responsiveness with regards to shifting territories, alternative and decolonial ways-of-being, methodologies of collage, and the transformation of salvaged materials into utilitarian objects for speculation, vision and action. The approaches and perspectives demonstrated within her practice are influenced by her Haudenosaunee and settler ancestry, as well as her roles as mother and environmental steward.
She currently lives and works on land between two lakes, the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee, Chonnonton and Anishnaabeg.
Life of a Craphead is the collaboration of Amy Lam and Jon McCurley. Their work spans performance art, film and curation. The name Life of a Craphead comes from the opening joke of the very first live comedy routine they performed together in 2006. Their work investigates, through the central principle of humour, the different ways in which power and authority are deployed. Life of a Craphead has exhibited across Canada and the U.S. and has been featured in Art in America, Canadian Art, Washington Post, CBC, VICE, and others.
Amy is Chinese and Jon is Vietnamese and they both live and work in Toronto.
Life of a Craphead is one of the three recipients of the inaugural Sobey Art Award Residencies Program.
Drawing on diverse histories and traditions, Nep Sidhu forges ambitious, large-scale pieces in paint, textiles and sculpture. His work has been shown nationally and internationally, most recently in a solo exhibition at the Surrey Art Gallery in British Columbia (2016) and at the Aichi Triennial in Japan (2016). Sidhu’s current collaborations with the Black Constellation Collective and Shabazz Palaces examine identity, ritual and adornment in the worlds of fashion and music. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Artist Award.
Along with his family, Sidhu has formed Sher-E-Punjab Academy, a boxing school for young girls in Chakar, Punjab.