Cameroonian artist to receive Henrike Grohs Art Award
Eyongakpa was shortlisted for the award together with Georgina Maxim (Zimbabwe) and Makouvia Kokou Ferdinand (Togo).
“The jury unanimously awards the inaugural Henrike Grohs Art Award to Em’kal Eyongakpa for his poetic, subtle and subjective approach,” jury members Koyo Kouoh, Laurence Bonvin, Raphael Chikukwa and Simon Njami said in a joint statement.
“His work expresses universal concerns of humanity. The multidisciplinary stance of his practice, which includes knowledge derived from science, ethnobotany, magical realism, experimentation and utopia, aptly responds to the core values of the Henrike Grohs Art Award.”
Goethe-Institut president Klaus-Dieter Lehmann said: “I would like to congratulate the first prize winner Em’kal Eyongakpa with whom, after an intensive selection process, the judges have made an excellent choice.”
Grohs, a former head of Goethe-Institut Abidjan, was killed during a terrorist attack in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire, on 13 March 2016. She was instrumental in setting up the Music In Africa project in 2011 and served as a board member of the Music In Africa Foundation for two years.
“We have not only lost a highly esteemed and beloved colleague in Henrike Grohs but also a person who carried hope into the world with her beliefs and actions,” Lehmann said.
“Therefore, it is of particular importance to link the memory of Henrike Grohs to a viewpoint that reflects her work and desires. This has come to fruition in the prize, as it promotes the cause of Henrike Grohs: to support African creative artists and make a contribution towards international dialogue.”
Born in 1981, Eyongakpa is an intermedia artist who approaches the experienced, the unknown and collective histories through a ritual use of repetition and transformation. His recent ideas draw from indigenous knowledge systems and aesthetics, ethnobotany, applied mycology and technology.
Eyongakpa is also known for self-organised community research projects and autonomous art hubs like KHaL!SHRINE in Yaoundé (2007-2012) and the recently launched sound art and music platform ɛfúkúyú. His work was exhibited at the Jakarta Biennale (2017), the 13th Sharjah Biennial (2017), La Biennale de Montreal (2016), the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo (2016), and other influential art platforms.
The Henrike Grohs Art Award is a biennial prize designed to continue Groh’s exceptional commitment to support artists in Africa and make a contribution towards international dialogue. It will be awarded every two years to an artist or arts collective practicing visual arts.