The Herb Alpert Award, a collaborative initiative of the Herb Alpert Foundation and the California Institute of the Arts, celebrates artistic contribution to the fields of visual arts, dance, theatre, music, film and video. This year, five artists have been recognised for their ingenuity and creativity, all at mid-career level: composer and pianist Courtney Bryan; artist and filmmaker Arthur Jafa; playwright Robert O’Hara; choreographer Okwui Okpokwasili; and artist Michael Rakowitz. Each will receive a $75,000 monetary prize.
While each artist hails from a different country, their practices share political undertones. In a statement following the announcement, Irene Borger, director of the Herb Alpert Award in the Arts, shared: “At this fraught moment it’s a powerful antidote to honor and support this year’s winners who are alert to the world, rigorous in their reach, and fiercely engaged with that which is undepicted, unheard, misnamed, unspoken, buried, and marginalised.”
Bryan uses music to express sounds of rebellion and healing; Jafa reworks historical narratives of black culture; O’Hara’s writings investigate US perspectives on history, family, sexuality and addiction; Okpokwasili explores the body as a site of protest in relation to African humanitarian crises; and Rakowitz explores Middle Eastern socio-politics. Last year’s winners included luciana achugar; Eve Beglarian; Daniel Fish; Amy Franceschini; and Kerry Tribe.