Jasmina Cibic wins the Jarman Award 2021 for her poignantly post-Brexit film The Gift

Announced on 23 November at the Regent Street Cinema, Jasmina Cibic, a Slovenian artist working across moving image, sculpture, immersive installation and performance, is this year’s Jarman Award winner. The award, established in 2008, celebrates UK-based filmmakers and moving image makers working in experimental filmmaking and innovation, taking its name from filmmaker Derek Jarman and run in partnership with the Whitechapel Gallery, with support from Genesis Cinema. Previously shortlisted artists have been Laure Prouvost, Heather Phillipson, Elizabeth Price, Monster Chetwynd, Duncan Campbell, Charlotte Prodger, James Richards, Laurence Abu Hamdan, Luke Fowler and Project Art Works, all of whom went on to be shortlisted for, or to win, the Turner Prize.

Cibic’s work is often theatrical and addresses global issues surrounding national identity and nation building. Cibic uses actual transcripts of real political debates and speeches to form the dialogue of her film works and sets them in architecturally interesting locations, from Oscar Niemeyer’s French Communist Party Headquarters in Paris to the Palace of Nations in Geneva. She experiments with dance performances and has collaborated with dancers for her films Nada and The Gift.

Her latest film, The Gift, which won Cibic the award, was created over two years and tells the allegorical story of a competition between an artist, a diplomat and an engineer to determine which of the arts would be the most likely to heal a divided society. These characters are interviewed by a panel of four women who are meant to represent the four freedoms listed by Roosevelt in his Four Freedoms speech of 1940: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want and Freedom From Fear. The artist represented Slovenia at the 55th Venice Biennale and recently had a major solo show at Mac Lyon. She’s had her work shown at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Cooper Gallery, Dundee, DHC/ART Fondation pour l’art contemporain, Montreal and MOCA, Belgrade.

The shortlist artists were Adham Faramawy, Georgina Starr, Guy Oliver, Larry Achiampong and Sophia Al-Maria. “It was our almost impossible task to select just six artists from what was truly a cinematic feast,” said the members of the jury who judge the Jarman Award. “The artists we selected are characterised by their audio-visual sophistication, their urgent narratives and the reflection they inspire on the nature of subjectivity, history and memory.” The jury members explain that the six shortlisted artists aim to represent an “astonishing zeitgeist.” Among the jury are Iwona Blazwick, the director of Whitechapel Gallery; Amal Khalaf, the director of programmes at Cubitt and projects curator at the Serpentine Galleries; Shaminder Nahal, commissioning editor of Arts and Topical at Channel 4 and one of last year’s Jarman Award Winners, Larissa Sansour, among others.

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