BALTIC Artists’ Award is a biennial award established to recognise artists deserving of an international platform and offers a step-change moment in their career, each receiving an exhibition at BALTIC, £25,000 to realise new work and a £5,000 artist fee. Three established international artists are invited to nominate an artist in their early stages of their career. For the 2021 award, Otobong Nkanga, nominated Ima-Abasi Okon, Mika Rottenberg nominated Laleh Khorramian and Hito Steyerl nominated Fernando García-Dory.
Ima-Abasi Okon works with sculpture, sound and video to produce installations that explore the historical and political charge of materials. She employs exhibition-making as an exercise in syntax; adopting linguistic and grammatical structures as a way of complicating the construction of knowledge. In her recent works, Okon has repurposed industrial and handmade objects, removing their use-value or function, in order to explore the formation of taste, subjectivity, productivity and excess.
Okon lives between London and Amsterdam. Selected exhibitions include: Infinite Slippage: nonRepugnant Insolvencies T!-a!-r!-r!-y!-i!-n!-g! as Handclaps of M’s Hard’Loved’Flesh [I’M irreducibly undone because] —Leanage-Complex-Dub , Chisenhale Gallery, London (2019); The Weather Garden: Anne Hardy curates the Arts Council Collection, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne (2019); Sur— [MIX-USE COMMODITY] —plus, Kingsgate Project Space, London; Parables for the BLAZER: Mahalia’s EXCISTENCEandEXISTENTS-HyPE fragrant stacking balm (306.HAL), Plaza Plaza, London; 13th Dak’Art Biennale, Dakar, Senegal; There’s something in the conversation that is more interesting than the finality of (a title), The Showroom, London (all 2018); and UNTITLED: Art on the Conditions of Our Time, New Art Exchange, Nottingham (2017). In 2018, she was awarded the Nigel Greenwood Research Prize and the Summer Residency at Hospitalfield, Scotland. She is currently participating in the residency programme at Rijksakademie voor beeldende kunsten (Academy for fine arts), Amsterdam.
Laleh Khorramian’s work spans stop-motion animation, monotypes, portraits, collage, paintings and clothing. Her practice combines the cosmological thinking of ancient cultures, their complex mythologies, and spiritual vocabularies within her own imagined worlds — synthesizing them into histories that are both futuristic and ancient. By removing cultural or historical specificity from her narratives, she uses the ordinary to portray the epic, the universal and the transient, in a search for worlds beyond our own. Khorramian approaches her work as a series of experiments, with the process of chance as a starting point for discovering possibilities of the unknown. In a vacillating process between macro and micro views of painted landscapes and incidental spaces, Khorramian integrates fiction with spectacle and theatre to explore the transience of living matter and its cycles of depletion and plenitude.
Born in Tehran, Iran, Khorramian lives in upstate New York. She studied at the Rhode Island School of Design and received her undergraduate degree at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago, and her MFA at Columbia University, New York. Khorramian has exhibited internationally, including shows in MASS MOCA, U.S.A; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Art Basel Statements, Switzerland; Ballroom Marfa, Texas; Istanbul Museum of Art, Istanbul; The Sundance Film festival; The Midnight Moment in Times Sq and The Queensland Art Gallery, Australia.
Fernando García-Dory´s work engages with the relationship between culture and nature, as manifested in multiple contexts, from landscape and the rural, to desires and expectations in relation to identity, crisis, utopia and the potential for social change. Interested in the harmonic complexity of biological forms and processes, his work addresses connections and cooperation, microorganisms, social systems, traditional art languages and collaborative agro-ecological projects and actions. Since 2009 García-Dory has developed INLAND, a collaborative platform and para-institution dedicated to agricultural, social and cultural production. INLAND aims to dissolve individual agency and authorship, and functions in different forms in different countries. It’s wide variety of projects include publishing books, producing shows, making cheese, and advising the European Union Commission on the use of art for rural development policies. Recently INLAND has received awards from the Council of Forms, Paris and the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation to finalise New Curriculum, a project devoted to training artists and rural agents of the future.
García-Dory studied Fine Arts and Rural Sociology, and is now preparing his PhD on Agro-ecology. His work has been shown at Tensta Konsthall (Stockholm) Pompidou Museum (Paris), Reina Sofia Museum (Madrid), SFMOMA (San Francisco), amongst others. He has participated in biennials in Athens, Lisbon, Gwangju and Jeju and in Documenta 13. He is a fellow of Council of Forms (Paris) and a board member of the World Alliance of Nomadic Pastoralists. He was awarded the Creative Time NY Annenberg´s prize.