*The winning piece, Scraps from mama’s kitchen, an installation by Bolatito

By Japhet Alakam

Visual art is seen as a male-dominated business all over the world, but many women believe in the popular saying that “whatever a man can do, a woman can do it, even better and so they have been trying to prove it and that popular saying played out recently when a female emerging artist, Bolatito Aderemi-Ibitola, beat two male finalists to emerge the winner of  the N1 million prize money of the 2018 edition of the ART X Prize with Access’ instituted by ART X Lagos, West Africa’s foremost international art fair, in conjunction with Access Bank to recognise and support the best of emerging Nigerian visual art talent.

Apart from the N1million grant she will receive towards her project which will be exhibited in a solo presentation at ART X Lagos 2018 from 2nd to 4th November, Ibitola will also receive invaluable opportunities for networking and mentoring to realise, promote, and contextualise her art project.

Ibitola, a trans-disciplinary artist working primarily in time-based art, interactivity and performance who couldn’t hold back her joy when she was announced winner said: “This prize is really amazing to the emerging artist. This is something we wouldn’t have been able to do due to funding issues.”

The artist who stated that she was inspired by her mother who made her dresses as a child, explained the nature of art she produces. “It’s quite a huge undertaking because the screen I want to use is large. As of now, it’s about 15 feet depending on how the project develops; it may be bigger than that. The piece I proposed is called ‘scraps from mama’s screen.”

*From left: Mr Oliver Enwonwu, Bolatiti Aderemi-Ibitola, (winner,), Prof. Bruce Onobrakpeya and Wura Natasha-Ogunji

Ibitola was chosen from a pool of several dozen applicants by a  jury of five renowned artists comprising veteran artist, Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya; Yinka Shonibare MBE ; Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Sokari Douglas-Camp; and curator/SNA president, Oliver Enwonwu. BolatitoAderemi-Ibitola emerged as the winner of the Prize, after live presentations to the jury, alongside a shortlist that also included two other artists – Ayo Akinwande and Williams Chechet as finalists.

Access Bank’s collaboration with ART X Lagos stems from a mandate to support and contribute to the development of the art sector in Nigeria by investing in Nigerian talent. The sponsorship of the ART X Prize with Access is a partnership that will celebrate, empower and provide vital professional development for a new generation of emerging Nigerian talent.

Founder  & Director of ART X Lagos, Tokini Peterside, remarked: “The extraordinarily high quality of work we received speaks volumes of the potential of the art sector in Nigeria. We are delighted to have the privilege to support the prize winner, Bolatito, at this pivotal stage in her career. With certainty that this will propel her forward towards a successful future within the African and global art industry, we look forward to unveiling Bolatito’s ambitious project at ART X Lagos 2018 in November. The project will introduce Bolatito to our international audience of critics, collectors and curators from renowned institutions around the world. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Access Bank for their support for this initiative and to our stellar jury for their tireless commitment and generosity to this effort.”

On his part, Herbert Wigwe, CEO and Group Managing Director of Access Bank Plc opines:”At Access Bank, beyond our vast collection of established artists, we believe that we are also responsible for empowering emerging artists. This is why we continue to support the ART X Prize – to celebrate the ingenuity of Nigeria’s emerging art talent. I can see the recipient of the ART X Prize with Access being the next great artist of our time, endowing us with the potential and the privilege to shape the most relevant art that will come out of the African continent.”

Bolatito lives and works in Lagos, Nigeria, and earned her Master’s in Performance Studies from Tisch School of the Performing Arts, New York University and holds a Bachelor’s in Communication Arts with a focus in Television/Film Production and a minor in Political Science from Allegheny College.

On the selection process, Professor Bruce Onobrakpeya comments:”The finalists have demonstrated far-sighted maturity in their presentations, in varied media, with demonstrable projects and feasible proposals. ART X Lagos must be congratulated for its professionalism in organising an international jury to deliberate on the ART X Prize with Access.”

Jury member, Yinka Shonibare MBE also commented: “Aderemi-Ibitola,  Chechet and Akinwande have all expressed contemporary cultural concerns in Nigeria through their work. All of the finalists are very strong, so you can imagine what an impossible decision it has been for us! I am very proud to have been part of this exciting process.”



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