Best Artist

Great art has the power to confront and amaze us, pulling our culture in new and exciting directions. From technology and the body to identity and colonialism, these five artists reshaped issues and histories into rich and imaginative creative works. Which one pushed your imagination the furthest?

Angela Tiatia

Angela Tiatia’s work is an active confrontation. She resists and refracts the structures imposed upon her body, challenging the viewer to re-assess representation and self-perception. Tiatia evokes numerous religious, transcultural, feminist and geopolitical issues across a range of performance platforms. In 2016, her work has ranged from a massive 17-channel live video feed installation reflecting “selfie culture” back as a series of body parts, to an examination of femininity in popular music videos. She was a finalist in this year’s Fisher’s Ghost Art Award, Blake Prize, John Fries Award, and NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging). Angela is represented by Alcaston Gallery, Melbourne.

Claudia Nicholson

Sawdust and glitter, gifs and ceramics. Claudia Nicholson’s work extends itself over myriad mediums, existing between the traditions of her South American heritage and the gleam of the virtual sphere. She has exhibited her unique sawdust carpets (a traditional Central and South American form of mural drawn on the ground in dyed sawdust) nationally, at MONA’s Dark Mofo and PASSING/PARADES in Fremantle, and locally, as part of MCA Art Bar, safARI festival, and C3West’s/ Power House Youth Theatre’s Women of Fairfield.

Ghenoa Gela

Powerful and compelling, Ghenoa Gela’s work blends dance with digital platforms to bring the traditions of her Torres Strait Islander heritage to new audiences. Ghenoa’s practice pivots on the act of sharing, celebrating her culture and history, and the potential of making community through movement and storytelling. For many, Ghenoa’s work is an introduction to Torres Strait Islander dance, already fulfilling part of Gela’s ambition in sharing her culture in theatres with new audiences. This year, her Fragments of Malungoka – Women of the Sea won the Keir Choreographic Award and Keir Choreographic People’s Choice Award.

Giselle Stanborough

Internet obsessive Giselle Stanborough hijacks the language of online dating sites to bring into view the mechanisms of manipulation employed for corporate agendas. Lozein is an alternative reality matchmaking startup presented at the MCA — a project complete with branding, website, a digital ad campaign, product launch and conference. NSW Visual Arts Fellowship (Emerging) finalist, Stanborough’s practice actively blurs the line between artist and entrepreneur to interrogate the commercialisation of our fears and desires in an age of technological surveillance.

Jonathan Jones

This year, Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi artist Jonathan Jones presented his monumental barrangal dyara (skin and bones) as the 32nd Kaldor Public Art Project. This large-scale, site-specific sculpture installation of 15,000 bleached white ceramic shields was presented in the Royal Botanical Gardens. Reflecting on a forgotten relic of Sydney’s history, it marked the site of the Garden Palace, an exhibition hall that was home to a vast assemblage of historical Indigenous artefacts. The Palace burned to the ground in 1882, along with everything inside it. Bold and poignant, Jones’s work provided a unique invitation to explore Indigenous culture and the remnants of colonialism in our city.