Tehran-born, Melbourne-based artist Hoda Afshar has won the Peoples Choice for this years Ramsay Art Prize 2021 with her work Agonistes, an installation comprised of a video and a series of nine photographic portraits that explores the experiences of whistleblowers.
In her winning work, Afshar photographs 3D printed busts that resemble classical statutory, heroicising individuals who have spoken out and endured an inner struggle as a result. Whether whistleblowing on matters to do with the military, intelligence services, immigration detention, youth detention, or aged and disability care, Afshars subjects have spoken out for those whose voices are not heard.
Afshar says, Being a finalist in the Ramsay Art Prize and winning the People's Choice with my series Agonistes is a humbling and beautiful moment in my career. But, even more so, it's a testament to the ability of the arts to engage people with the most urgent issues affecting our human society. I have always believed in the potential of art to bring to light what's at stake, and I hope that winning this prize will contribute to highlighting that what is at stake today is our fragile democracy and our right to dissent.
Director, Rhana Devenport ONZM says, The selection of this work as the winner of the Peoples Choice reflects the level of thoughtfulness and engagement of our visitors. To win a peoples choice prize is an achievement of utmost praise to the artist. We are thrilled to witness our visitors connect so strongly with Afshars emotive work.
Supported by specialist legal practice LK, the Peoples Choice is a $15,000 prize, with one winner selected by public vote from the 24 Ramsay Art Prize finalists.
As committed supporters of contemporary Australian art, LKs Chief Operating Officer, Mary-Louise Rahaley says, Congratulations to Hoda Afshar for winning the Peoples Choice for her remarkable work Agonistes. We were once again thrilled to play a part in the Ramsay Art Prize, to experience such an array of incredible work and to see at the end of it all which work resonated most with the audience. Thank you to all of the artists for captivating and challenging us, and the James & Diana Ramsay Foundation for making this experience possible.
Not only was Agonistes selected as the winner of the Peoples Choice, but three photographs from the series will be acquired into AGSAs collection thanks to the Contemporary Collectors, a philanthropic group dedicated to growing AGSA's collection of contemporary art.
The Ramsay Art Prize 2021 exhibition runs until 22 August at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Admission is free.