2015 Edition

Ângela Ferrreira is the winner of the NOVO BANCO Photo 2015 prize, Portugal’s most prestigious international contemporary art award. Highlighting new work by the most accomplished artists from Portuguese-speaking countries, this unique award confers on the winner a prize worth 40,000 Euros.

The selection jury, whose nationalities are distinct from those of the shortlisted artists, is comprised of the artist and independent curator Dana Whabira (London, Harare); art historian and professor at the City University of New York, Manthia Diawara (Bamako, New York); and art historian and professor at Cornell University, Salah Hassan (Khartoum, New York).

“The jury deliberated hard and unanimously reached a decision which was difficult in consideration of the strength of every single artists’ work brought to the powerful and thematically-coherent exhibition.

A walk through the exhibition highlights aspects of this powerful and brilliant group of artists. The work by Edson Chagas brings new dimension to minimalism as it is conceived by the West by contextualizing the objects within the space and time of the post-colonial. Moving away from the highly formalist and aestheticised approach. His photographs which are conceived in different dimensions were subtlely connected through the thread of the horizon that moves between the different photographs while his screen projection of a film that echoes the photographs that brings a repetitive element of running and moving back and forth from one end of the screen to the other of a human figure with a sound track that echo the nightlife and waves of the sea punctuated with a heartbeat-like rhythm that brings life to the otherwise horizon in which the human figure is overwhelmed by the space. His choice of photographing the space at the moment of silence, a space that is otherwise full of hustle and bustle of the flâneur and voyeur, the drunkard and the lovers.

Moving to the conceptual and highly-ritualised work of Ayrson Heráclito one is confronted with a performance piece in the set of a diptych photographic installation that conceived of itself as two inverted L-shaped formulation. Again, the photographs echo the similarities of two transatlantic slave posts where the artist exorcised a history that is full of the legacy of violence that impacted in the black body in the context of the transatlantic slave trade. The videos echo each other by providing a recording or enacting the exorcism with an African and African-diasporic belief system. Heráclito brings in new work in which the personal is enacted as political, and where the ritual performance enacted with a sense of commitment not only to history but to an epistemology where the artists will act as a subject and an object with the ritual mixed with the conceptual.

In the context of the work of the exhibition, the jury agreed unanimously in awarding Angela Ferreira’s work conceived for this exhibition, A Tendency to Forget (2015) the NOVO BANCO Photo prize 2015 for it’s multi-layered investigative and research-based multi-media installation that brings together the photographic, the architectural, the sculptural, and the moving image punctuated with historical archival footage in a highly sensitized work, that challenges our perception of the past and confronts us with the ghosts of the colonial in the post-colonial context. The work reminds us of the darker side of modernity as it unveils the hidden side of the archives where she plays on the tension between the unseen and seen, the presence and absence, and the uncanny. We can see the reading of the spaces as political texts by revealing the complicity between anthropology and colonialism, between power and knowledge production embodied in a minimalist sculptural installation that moves us in an inverted way to metaphorically mine the archive.

The exhibition, which is open to the public until 11 October, features new works by Ângela Ferreira (Lisbon), Ayrson Heráclito (Salvador) and Edson Chagas (Luanda).

Through the prize, NOVO BANCO furthers its commitment to cultural patronage in the field of photography, ensuring the continuity of the art form and the goals of internationalisation in its selection of artists, who can be from Portugal, Brazil and Portuguese-speaking countries in Africa.