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Frieze London

Alberta Whittle named the winner of this year's Frieze Artist Award

Exploring themes around the fear of contagion and xenophobia, the new film commission will debut online as part of the virtual edition of Frieze London

Still from Whittle's forthcoming film, which will debut as part of Frieze London. Courtesy of Matthew A. Williams

The Barbados-born filmmaker Alberta Whittle has been named as this year's recipient of the annual Frieze Artist Award, a major commission granted to an emerging artist at Frieze London, which will run online from 8 October. It is the second year that the award has been focused on the medium of film.

Whittle, who earned her MFA from the Edinburgh College of Art and lives between Scotland and South Africa, is known for her interdisciplinary works that explore the African diaspora and push for the decolonisation of Western history. Her winning proposal features a new moving-image work based on the writings of queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick that interweaves gothic imagery, fears of contagion and the ensuing moral panic that often follows such fears.

"[The work] explores timely questions relating to personal healing and the cultivation of hope in hostile environments, be it the pandemic, colonialism or xenophobia,” according to Eva Langret, the artistic director of Frieze London.

Forced to cancel its physical event due Covid-19 restrictions, the film will premiere on the Frieze website on 8 October, with a simulcast screening at the headquarters of Forma—a London-based arts organisation that sponsored the prize—during an invitation-only event. Forma is planning to hold additional screenings of the work between 9-16 October.

The Frieze Artist Award aims to support the work of emerging international artists. Whittle's proposal was selected from a shortlist of nominated artists: Cibelle Cavalli Bastos, Jamie Crewe, AdhamFaramawy, Arash Fayez, Onyeka Igwe, Helene Kazan and Sadé Mica. Jurors of this year's prize include Langret, Chris Rawcliffe (Artistic Director, Forma), Himali Singh Soin (artist and winner of the Frieze Artist Award 2019), Victor Wang (王宗孚) (Artistic Director and Chief Curator, M WOODS Museum) and Zoé Whitley (Director, Chisenhale Gallery).