The Armory Show today announced that its new $10,000 Presents Booth Prize—awarded by jury to a young gallery exhibiting in that sector of the fair—goes to Mariane Ibrahim Gallery of Seattle, for a solo stand of multimedia works by Zohra Opoku. A German-Ghanaian artist living in Accra, Opoku plays on the symbolic significance of African textiles to explore contemporary issues of fashion, identity, history, and socio-cultural dynamics in videos, photographs, and installations.
The five-year-old gallery’s founder Mariane Ibrahim-Lenhart, a first-time exhibitor at the Armory Show, dedicated the prize to Opoku, saying that it “aligns with the recognition of African-descent contributions in the arts industry”.
From left: Zora Opalka, Benjamin Genocchio, Andrea Danese, and Mariane Ibrahim (Photo: Teddy Wolff)
The award highlights the fair’s new emphasis on the Presents sector, which this year has grown to include 30 galleries that have been in business for no more than 10 years. The prize’s jury included the Netherlands-based collector Renee Drake, the New Museum’s artistic director Massimiliano Gioni, the SculptureCenter’s curator Ruba Katrib, the Belgian collector Alain Servais, and the New York collector Carole Server.
This is the first year of the prize, funded by Athena Art Finance Corporation, an Armory sponsor and niche lender. Andrea Danese, the chief executive of Athena, says, “Nurturing these new entrants in the market, and supporting more established galleries and dealers through our new gallery financing program, is a natural extension of Athena’s mission to support the full spectrum of the global art market.”
The prize is also a tacit acknowledgment, however, of the financial burden young galleries face in trying to establish their brand via global fairs, since the cash award essentially cancels out the cost. The fair’s director Benjamin Genocchio says: “Each of our participating Presents galleries deserves recognition for their outstanding presentations this year and for their enduring contribution to the fair’s overall quality and experience.”