Okwui Enwezor Wins the $26,700 International Folkwang Prize 2017

The curator is being recognized for his work expanding art beyond the European-American canon.

Okwui Enwezor. Photo: Andreas Gebert, 2011, Courtesy Museum Folkwang

Curator Okwui Enwezor is the winner of the 2017 International Folkwang Prize, presented by the Folkwang Museum in Essen, Germany. The annual award comes with a €25,000 ($26,700) prize.

Enwezor has been the artistic director and managing director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich since 2011. Currently, the institution is the subject of investigations over its purported ties to scientology.

He curated Documenta 11 in 2002 and the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, a critically divisive, politically charged exhibition titled “All The World’s Futures.” Enwezor is originally from Nigeria, a background that has consistently informed his professional career.

One of his earliest curatorial efforts, “In/Sight: African Photographers, 1940 to the Present,” brought work by 30 African photographers to New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1996. Enwezor also led the second edition of the Johannesburg Biennial in 1997, and curated “The Rise and Fall of Apartheid” at the International Center for Photography in New York, in 2013.

“His greatest achievement in contemporary art has been to raise a global awareness of art beyond the Euro-American canon,” said Folkwang Museum Association chairman Ulrich Blank in a statement. The museum praised Enwezor as one of the world’s most prolific curators of Modern and contemporary art.

In November, New York’s Performa, the performance art biennial, honored Enwezor at its fall gala, which paid tribute to the history of performance and visual art in South Africa.

The Folkwang Museum Association has awarded the annual prize since 2010. The 53-year-old curator will be honored at an award presentation on October 9.

Past winners include Hans Ulrich Obrist, director of London’s Serpentine Gallery, in 2015.


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