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Wits Young Artist Award

- Undergrad Exhibitions

The Division of Visual Art at the Wits School of Arts invites you to the opening of the first annual Wits Young Artist Award (WYAA) Date: 12 August Time: 6pm Venue: The Point of Order, cnr Bertha and Stiemens Streets, Braamfontein Winners to be announced on 1 September 2016.

About the WYAA: Over the past  ((….)) years, the annual Martienssen Prize has been awarded to honour artistic excellence produced by senior Wits Fine Arts students. Although change was inherent in its previous iterations, the award saw an accelerated shift in its structure in recent years. Taking place at various locations, including Museum Africa in Newtown, the award fostered links between the Division of Visual Arts and other art institutions in the city. Its return to Braamfontein in 2011 has positioned the award as an important contributor to the area’s growing cultural hub, which has attracted artists, galleries and various cultural institutions. The newly established Wits Young Artist Award (formerly known as Martienssen Prize) is born out of a need for more than “change”. It is an urgent call for rethinking and re-imagining what an Art Award means in a Pan-African University which acknowledges the idea that decoloniality is an embodied experience of the postcolonial moment. This year not only sees a change in the name of the award, but also enables further interrogation by challenging the notion of “artistic excellence”. It intends to redefine how Art Competitions are governed. Through interrogating the processes of submission, adjudication, and project manifestation, the WYAA implements the mandate of decolonizing the art competition itself.

Through this process, notions of ‘failure’ come to signify that ideas and/or their execution have the potential to dismantle convention. This point in the history of the award signifies our search for an aesthetic language that advocates for the development of creative practices that go beyond “exhibition-making”. This allows for a revisiting of critical questions such as When is a work of art? Where does a work of art begin? Where must it be located? How does it manifest? When can it be allowed to die? If art is the answer, what are the questions? It further asks, Why “Art” if others cannot live?