Interdisciplinary Textures:
5 Films from the Art Prize

John Akomfrah. Joan Jonas. Isaac Julien. Cindy Sherman. These artists, among countless others, have embraced film as a medium for pushing the boundaries of artistic exploration. Ever since the invention of film in the 1890s, artists have been attracted to the possibilities of working with moving images, whether in pursuit of poetry, socio-political commentary, or personal expression. The medium offers up captivating experiences, inviting audiences to see through the eyes of characters like never before. In this round-up, we highlight five artists’ films from the Aesthetica Art Prize that showcase the power of visual storytelling.

The Black Man in The Cosmos | Kitoko Diva

Kitoko Diva is an artist who works across film, installation and performance. The Black Man in The Cosmos is a poetic and experimental art film that was created as a part of a video installation mixing new forms of Afrofuturism, afrodiasporic experiences and poetry. It is a social and political work that addresses the contemporary identity crisis issue among European Afro-descendants, revisiting Space Is the Place (1974) , a sci-fi musical directed by John Coney. Diva’s piece explores interactions of identity and race social structure with surrealism, technoculture, dream-like symbolism and cyberspaces utopies.

I’ll Be Back | Hope Strickland

Hope Strickland is an artist-filmmaker and researcher from Manchester, UK. Her practice is concerned with Maroon Ecologies and fosters ancestral connections across disparate landscapes. I’ll Be Back! documents the story of rebel slave François Mackandal. In 1758, Mackandal was condemned to be burned at the stake, not only for crimes but for his radical powers of metamorphosis. Filmed in archives and museums across the UK, the film looks at a series of collections that hold objects of colonial violence. It examines institutional practices and reconsiders the distance between myth, history and systemic power.

The Mechanics of Fluids | Gala Hernández López

Gala Hernández López is an artist-researcher and filmmaker. Her work is interdisciplinary and includes the production of essay films, video installations and performances on new modes of subjectivation by computational digital capitalism. In 2024, The Mechanics of Fluids won the Emerging Prize for the Aesthetica Art Award. The film explores isolation and solitude in incel culture. It responds to the suicide letter of an incel called Anathematic Anarchist, posting on Reddit, writing “America is responsible for my death.” Through a critical feminist lens, the filmmaker examines the discourse around virtual communities.

In | Diana Olifirova

Diana Olifirova is a filmmaker driven by curiosity. She makes daily “investigations” into various fields – sculpture, photography, music, theatre, architecture, yoga and dance – which inspire her visual responses. The idea is to encourage audiences to embark on a self-reflective journey, to connect and explore their senses. Her short film In travels through spaces and textures of everyday. It features three honest and visceral portraits of three different subjects, showcasing a kaleidoscope of experiences from their daily lives. The work is designed to be replayed, allowing viewers to discover more and more over time.

Stay | Oluwaseun Olayiwola

Oluwaseun (Seun) Olayiwola is a choreographer, critic, dancer and poet based in London. His dance film Stay is a collaboration with artist Sam Williams, unpicking themes of grief, desire and the Black body. Over the past four years the artist has developed a hybrid choreo-poetic practice that unpicks his multilayered identity as a queer Nigerian-American man. In the work, the subject of the piece toes the line between states of pleasure and sorrow, investigating intimacy. “It’s always strange to say Nigerian and queer in the same sentence,” the artist explains. “That tension is where my practice thrives.”

The Aesthetica Art Prize Exhibition runs 16 February – 21 April 2024 and is a testament to shared creativity in a time of immense change. Tickets can be booked in advance on the York Art Gallery website.  

To learn more about the 2024 Aesthetica Art Prize Shortlist and Longlist, click here.

The Aesthetica Art Prize is open for entries until 31 August. To find out more, click here.