Tehran-born, Melbourne-based artist Hoda Afshar has won the People’s Choice for this year’s Ramsay Art Prize 2021 with her work Agonistes, an installation comprised of a video and a series of nine photographic portraits that explores the experiences of whistleblowers.
In her winning work, Afshar photographs 3D printed busts that resemble classical statutory, heroicising individuals who have spoken out and endured an inner struggle as a result.
Whether whistleblowing on matters to do with the military, intelligence services, immigration detention, youth detention, or aged and disability care, Afshar’s subjects have spoken out for those whose voices are not heard.
“Being a finalist in the Ramsay Art Prize and winning the People’s Choice with my series Agonistes is a humbling and beautiful moment in my career,” said Afshar. “But, even more so, it’s a testament to the ability of the arts to engage people with the most urgent issues affecting our human society.
“I have always believed in the potential of art to bring to light what’s at stake, and I hope that winning this prize will contribute to highlighting that what is at stake today is our fragile democracy and our right to dissent.”
Not only was Agonistes selected as the winner of the People’s Choice, but three photographs from the series will be acquired into AGSA’s collection thanks to the Contemporary Collectors, a philanthropic group dedicated to growing AGSA’s collection of contemporary art.
“The selection of this work as the winner of the People’s Choice reflects the level of thoughtfulness and engagement of our visitors,” said AGSA Director, Rhana Devenport ONZM. “To win a people’s choice prize is an achievement of utmost praise to the artist. We are thrilled to witness our visitors connect so strongly with Afshar’s emotive work.”
The Ramsay Art Prize 2021 exhibition runs until 22 August at the Art Gallery of South Australia. Admission is free. For more information, visit: www.agsa.sa.gov.au for details.
Image: Hoda Afshar with her work Agonistes, Ramsay Art Prize 2021, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide – photo by Saul Steed