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Sondra Perry Wins 2018 Nam June Paik Award

American artist Sondra Perry has been named the ninth winner of the Nam June Paik Award by the Kunststiftung NRW, the arts foundation founded by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia in 1989. Honoring multidisciplinary artists working in media art, the $28,000 biennial prize was presented to Perry in an award ceremony at the Westfälischer Kunstverein in Münster on Friday, November 9. Finalists for the prize included Andreas Angelidakis, Antoine Catala, and Hanne Lippard.

Perry is known for creating videos, sculptures, and installations, often based on her own experiences, that engage critically with the construct of blackness. Her video installation It’s in the Game ’17, 2017—which weaves a narrative originating with the relationship between her and her twin brother, whose likeness was appropriated by the video game company Electronic Arts for an animated basketball game—is featured in the prize exhibition at Westfälischer Kunstverein through February 3, 2019. For the piece, Perry’s brother, a former uncompensated college basketball player for Georgia Southern University, accompanied her on a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they inspected its ethnographic collection comprising works from African, Middle Eastern, and South American nations.

“Perry’s work highlights the enduring issue of the exploitation of the black diaspora as public material without due compensation,” the prize’s jury said in a statement. “By inverting her brother’s avatar and showing an ‘inside-out’ view of his hip joint, the work further raises questions surrounding the representation of the body within digital technologies, its simultaneous likeness and uncanny abjection.”

The jury was made up of Karen Archey, the curator of contemporary art and time-based media at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Mark Beasley, curator of media art and performance at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Mélanie Bouteloup, director of the Bétonsalon–Center for Art and Research, Paris; Katerina Gregos, the Brussels-based independent curator and author; and Krist Gruijthuijsen, director of the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.

Perry’s work is currently featured in the solo show “Typhoon Coming On” at the LUMA Foundation in Zurich. She has also recently had exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; the Serpentine Galleries, London; the Seattle Art Museum; and the Kitchen, New York. Earlier this year, she received the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland’s $50,000 Toby’s Prize.