The nature of desire and the idea of 'post-digital identities' are among the themes in this year's Jarman Awards work
One of the highlights of the art calendar for anyone who digs video art is the Film London Jarman Award, which recognises and supports artists working with moving image. Named after and inspired by countercultural cinema icon Derek Jarman, the award also "celebrates the spirit of experimentation, imagination and innovation in the work of artist filmmakers in the UK," according to organisers.
Now in its fourteenth year, the Award has become known as a bellwether of artists at the cusp of huge things: previously shortlisted artists include Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Oreet Ashery, Duncan Campbell, Monster Chetwynd, Luke Fowler, Imran Perretta, Charlotte Prodger, Laure Prouvost, Elizabeth Price, James Richards, and Project Art Works all of whom went on to be shortlisted for or to win the Turner Prize.
The shortlist for the 2021 award of £10,000 was recently announced, and as ever, the work and artists that have been recognised are a varied, fascinating and frequently brilliant bunch. The artists selected for the shortlist this year are as follows.
Sophia Al Maria: Creating cinematic videos that explore postcolonial identity, imperialism and counter-histories, Al Maria's work weaves together music, literature, oral histories, film and dance. Her nonlinear works often use a sci-fi backdrop to explore how histories are revised, the impact of tech on individual isolation, and the corrosive elements of consumerism and industry.
Larry Achaimpong: Working across Solon collaborative project, Achiampong's works use aural and visual archive pieces, live performance and sound to explore ideas around class, cross-cultural and post-digital identity, and the artist's own shared and personal heritage. He has exhibited, performed and presented projects at Tate Modern, Venice Biennale, Somerset House and Liverpool Biennial.
Jasmina Cibic: Working across performance, installation and film, Cibic uses mechanisms such as art and architecture to frame her explorations of the construction of ideologies and cultures, often examining how national culture is formed and that way it's harnessed to serve political aims.
Adham Faramawy: Faramawy works across a range of media, including computer programmes, moving image, apps and print, often merging formats to create sculptural assemblages. His pieces often consider the meshing of social and environmental issues such as consumption, identity construction, the body and the nature of desire through movement, poetry, spoken word and dance.
Guy Oliver: Using the framework of highly personal but frequently irreverent self-portraiture, Oliver's moving image pieces explore notions of masculinity, identity, comedy and tragedy, taking a highly personal but irreverent working approach. His work both uses and critiques pop culture reference points such as cinema, sport, politics, pop music and stand-up comedy, as well as often using art history alongside these as subject matter.
Georgina Starr: Starr's videos, sound works and large-scale installation pieces focus on female identity, the otherworldly and experimental cinema. Her projects are born of extensive research that always involves some form of writing, from scripts and fiction to lectures, scores and poetry.
Their works from the shortlisted artists range from the individual and autobiographical to the global and political, taking in varying modes of moving image storytelling, including poetry, experimental sound, surreal computer graphics, performance, dance and choreography.
"Against a backdrop of abandoned buildings or elaborately conceived stage sets, this year's shortlisted artists montage found footage or script and choreograph little known yet dazzling performers to take us on a journey that bridges the political with the poetic. Viewers are in for a compelling ride," says Whitechapel Gallery director Iwona Blazwick OBE on behalf of the 2021 award jury.
The other jury members are Amal Khalaf, director of programmes at Cubitt, London and projects curator at the Serpentine Galleries; Shaminder Nahal, commissioning editor for arts and topical at Channel 4; artist and 2020 Jarman Award Winner, Larissa Sansour and Tyrone Walker-Hebborn, director of the Genesis Cinema.
The winner of the Jarman Award will be announced on 23 November 202I. In the run-up to the event, art and film lovers can explore the work of the shortlisted artists online through platforms including the Whitechapel Gallery website
In addition, there will be a special weekend of screenings, discussions and performances featuring all six shortlisted artists on 13 and 14 November at Whitechapel Gallery.
The Film London Jarman Award past winners are Luke Fowler (2008), Lindsay Seers (2009), Emily Wardill (2010), Anya Kirschner & David Panos (2011), James Richards (2012), John Smith (2013), Ursula Mayer (2014), Seamus Harahan (2015), Heather Phillipson (2016) Oreet Ashery (2017), Daria Martin (2018), Hetain Patel (2019). In 2020 the prize was split between Michelle Williams Gamaker, Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, Jenn Nkiru, Project Art Works, Larissa Sansour and Andrea Luka Zimmerman.