Today we announce wani toaishara as the winner of the 2022 Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award for his work do black boys go to heaven.
One of Australia’s most significant awards for contemporary photographic practice, the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award provides a national platform for emerging and established artists working in the broad medium of contemporary photography.
wani has been awarded the $25,000 acquisitive award, the richest prize for photography in Queensland.
toaishara's practice, based in videography and performance, responds to African affairs and visual culture while interrogating dislocation for those on the margins. Recently incorporating photography into his practice, the winning work do black boys go to heaven is informed by research into African archival material and deep dialogue with family and friends. toaishara connects visual language and spoken word to explore identity which is reinforced in the artist's statement:
‘As a person whose primary form of art making is videography with a background in performance specifically experimental theatre, photography is something I’ve always loved but only recently had the courage to start practicing publicly and incorporating within my practice. Winning this validates that choice and the courage it took to explore it. It’s a huge honour to even be selected amongst these incredible finalists, but an even bigger one to win the award.’wani toaishara
wani was announced as the winner from a finalist group of 40 works, selected from over 260 submissions, by Isobel Parker Philip, Senior Curator of Contemporary Australian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).
Isobel said: ‘There is a quiet powerfulness to wani toaishara’s do black boys go to heaven. It is a power made explicit in the subjects’ strong and self-assured expressions, but also written into the way that wani knowingly plays with (and exposes) the conventions of studio portraiture. The two figures are confident yet slightly stilted; they are dressed up but aren’t wearing shoes; the fabric backdrop has been carefully chosen to match their dresses and yet we see the clips securing it in place. Standing in this makeshift studio, the figures feel close to the surface of the image. This sense of intimacy and immediacy, as well as their open, front-facing posture, is striking but it is also a political gesture. wani turns a simple portrait into an assertion of presence and visibility. The two subjects ask us to see them as they are. As wani so movingly notes in his artist statement, ‘Worthy. Here. Still.’
Isobel Parker Philip, Senior Curator of Contemporary Australian Art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).
You can visit the exhibition daily and for free at HOTA Gallery until 8 Jan 2023.
A People’s Choice Award is also up for grabs, with visitors playing a part in making history by choosing their favourite artwork for the first time. The winning artist will receive $5,000 and voters go in the draw to win $500 and two nights accommodation at JW Marriott.
Voting in the People's Choice Award closes 4pm Sunday 27 Nov.
To strengthen HOTA Gallery’s impressive collection of contemporary Australian photography, this year, an additional $25,000 for acquisitions was also awarded to selected finalists - Aaron Chapman, Purple is Black Blooming 2020; Petrina Hicks, Hercules 2021; Katrin Koening, untitled from between the river and the sea 2021 and Jemima Wyman, Flourish 10 2020.
Artwork: wani toaishara. do black boys go to heaven 2021. Winner, Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award 2022; © Image courtesy of the artist