Adjudication Process in the L’Atelier art competition
The L’Atelier competition sets the stage for approximately 100 young artists each year to promote their work by exhibiting at the Absa Gallery, in Johannesburg, South Africa, and having their work documented in a sought-after catalogue.
The competition is open to everyone aged 21 to 35 years old. All artists, those with formal training as well as self-taught artists, are afforded an equal opportunity to participate in the competition. To ensure equal representation, inclusivity and participation, democratic structures are established at each collection point. Four independent adjudicators from each district surrounding the collection point works with the national co-ordinator in selecting the most definitive artworks in the adjudication panel’s opinion from that collection point that then go through to the national adjudication.
The national co-ordinator of the selection panel is appointed by the partners the South African National Association for the Visual Arts (SANAVA). The regional selection panel of independent adjudicators assisting the national co-ordinator is nominated by each regional collection point, while the national panel of independent adjudicators is identified by the partners in discussion with the national co-ordinator.
The top 100 works of art chosen by the panel are then transported to The Gallery in Johannesburg, where a separate panel of independent adjudicators, with the national co-ordinator, selects the final winning artworks.
Each adjudicator is chosen for their particular field of expertise within the visual arts, including sculpture, painting, digital, installation, printmaking and so forth and each contributed wholly to the assessment and discussion of what is deemed to be quality.
The criteria for the adjudication both at the regional and national levels revolves around matters of technical execution, conceptual and thematic engagement, freshness of artistic vision within the context of African contemporary art and finally – and probably and most difficult element – aesthetic appeal.
With regard to technical execution it is important that the works of art reveal an expert handling of materials and techniques and are presented in such a way that inform the adjudicators that the candidate was mindful of the work having to stand in its own right as an artwork
In respect of conceptual and thematic engagement it is imperative that the artwork reveals an honest and intellectual reasoning or rationale that may lead to the artists’ arrival at the artwork. Simultaneously, the conceptual nature of the work is also about the artwork conveying a message that is accessible to the viewer
A freshness of vision implies that the artwork has to reflect something that is not pastiche or echoes of rhetoric gone before, but rather engages with new and honest ways of seeing
Aesthetic appeal implies that the artist has shown a great consideration for the artworks ‘look’ in terms of visual quality and the conceptual concerns, where the artwork becomes a cohesive object carrying the intended message.
BISI SILVA is an independent curator and director/founded of Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos. She was Artistic Director of the 10th Bamako Encounters, African Biennial of Photography (2015) in Mali, Co-Curator of the 2nd Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art in Greece (2009), and Co-Curator of the 7th Dak’Art: African Contemporary Art Biennial (2006). She is the curator of Asiko (2010-) the pan-African roaming alternative art school. She co-curated The Progress of Love, a transcontinental collaboration between the Menil Collection (Houston) Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts (Missouri) and CCA Lagos (2012–13) and J.D. ‘Okhai Ojeikere: Moments of Beauty at the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (2011).
A frequent participant in international conferences and symposia, Silva has published in journals and art magazines including Artforum, Third Text, The Exhibitionist, and Art South Africa. Silva sits on the editorial/advisory boards of Art South Africa, N.Paradoxa: International Feminist Art Journal, and ContemporaryAnd. She was a member of the international jury for the Pinchuk Art Centre’s Future Generation Art Prize (2014), as well as the 55th Venice Biennale (2013). She was curator for Marker, West Africa at Art Dubai (2013) and has been a member of the jury for the BMW Prize at Art Basel (2014-2016) and the selection committee for Art Dubai Modern (2014 & 2015)