Performa, the New York performance art biennial, announced that artist Kemang Wa Lehulere has won the fourth edition of the Malcolm McLaren Award. Presented last night at the conclusion of Performa 17, the prize recognizes artists who stage “an innovative and thought-provoking performance” during the course of the exhibition. South African vocalist Vuyo Sotashe accepted the award on the artist’s behalf.
“Performa 17 has been an utterly exhilarating biennial,” founder and chief curator RoseLee Goldberg said. Every work has been a powerful call to activism through the most visually dazzling means, showing us how artists use their extraordinary talent as probes to consciousness. We are all better human beings for the work that we have experienced.”
The award was established in 2011 to honor Malcolm McLaren. Wa Lehulere received the prize for his work I Cut My Skin to Liberate the Splinter, 2017. Performed at the Connelly Theater, the piece comprised found objects, which served as musical instruments that performers played while acting out movements from children’s games. It also included a song composed by the artist. Past recipients of the award include Ragnar Kjartansson, Ryan McNamara, and Edgar Arceneaux.