Best Artist

Art at its best challenges the accepted shape of things. It transforms materials, spaces and bodies in order, ultimately, to transform consciousness. While this year’s nominees run the gamut of artistic practice, their work is marbled through with themes of cultural equilibrium and reforming and reframing what we think of as the Australian experience. What caught your attention this year? 

Serwah Attafuah

Serwah Attafuah is a self-taught multidisciplinary artist and musician from Sydney’s west. Her incredibly distinctive style combines Afrofuturism and renaissance art to create surreal cyber dreamscapes, heavenly wastelands, and vibrant neons. In 2021, Serwah’s practice gained global recognition through her use of NFTs – most notably at Sotheby’s Natively Digital curated NFT sale in June. She’s one of the first local artists to adopt this medium. 2021 also saw Serwah collaborate with FBi favourites such as Genesis Owusu and Amyl and the Sniffers – bringing their creative visions to life in the digital 3D realm.

Photo courtesy of artist.

Natali Caro

Natali Caro is so much more than the host of Kings & Queens here at FBi Radio. They’re a QTPOC DJ, comedian, drag king (performing as Papi Chulo), writer and producer, as well as one of the faces of The Vanguard’s bi-monthly Queer comedy cabaret GAG Comedy. Their first solo comedy show Seeking Representation debuted at the end of last year, and since then, they’ve been shortlisted for ATYP’s Rebel Wilson Comedy Commission, produced and hosted Thanks for Having Me as part of Laugh Outta Lockdown festival, and appeared in comedy sketch show Mystery Flight among many other things. The empire Natali is building centres on QTPOC and intersectionality advocacy in entertainment through humour and representation.

Photo courtesy of artist.

Jazz Money

Wiradjuri poet Jazz Money is a master storyteller – a skill that’s show in its face in her writing, film making, and collaborative digital projects with First Nations artists and communities. Her writing has been celebrated nationally and internationally, and 2021 was no different. Jazz published a scathing, funny and lyrical book of poetry, ‘how to make a basket’ – examining the tensions of living in the Australian colony today, celebrating Bla(c)k and queer love, and remembering, reimagining and re-voicing history through deeply personal and fiercely political poems. This year alone, jazz was shortlisted for the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, and she won the University of Melbourne Rising Star Award for Young Alumni, the Australian Council for the Arts First Nations Emerging Career Award, and the Campbelltown Arts Centre Fisher’s Ghost Art Award. Maybe she’ll take out an FBi Radio SMAC Award too.

Photo courtesy of artist.

EJ Son

South Korean born artist EJ Son creates self-referential art dedicated to honesty and humour. Her practice spans sculpture, photography, video, painting and installation, and draws from a huge scope of themes including Korean proverbs, public holidays, art history, pottery, sex and consumer culture. She was the recipient of the Emerging 2020 prize at the Gosford Regional Gallery. EJ Son has recently had her work shown at Parramatta artist-run initiative Pari, Verge Gallery, and Bus Projects, and taken part in an experimental spaces piece with The Waiting Room Projects.

Photo courtesy of artist.

Demon Derriere

A quick Google search of Demon Derriere will see the phrase “booty manipulator” dotted across your search results. She’s a queer, POC performance artist who is Hard of Hearing (HoH). Her practice explores vibration, ‘otherness’ and identity through a fusion of twerk, strip-tease and neo-burlesque. It’s a kind of booty manipulation geared towards challenging the stereotypes associated with dance, and breaking free from the marginalisation, oppression and discrimination many ethnic women face. Demon is the creator of Bootylesque and curator of Big Thick Energy; a couple of places where you can watch it all unfold. 

Photo courtesy of artist.

Akil Ahamat

Akil Ahamat is a multidisciplinary artist who works across video, sound, performance and installation. Exploring the forms and techniques evident in ASMR roleplay videos, Ahamat employs installation elements and audio technology to his work. His art speaks to his own online experiences and considers the physical and social isolation that often governs the way we shape our identities online and in real life. In 2020 he received a NSW Visual Arts Emerging Fellowship at Artspace, and followed it up this year by winning The Churchie Emerging Art Prize 2021, and showcasing his work in MUMA’s (Monash University Museum of Art) Language Is a River exhibition.

Photo courtesy of artist.