The Hammer Museum has announced that Meleko Mokgosi (b. 1981 Francistown, Botswana) is the recipient of the inaugural Mohn Award. A recent UCLA grad (MFA ’11), Mokgosi’s monumental painting on view at the Hammer is provocative, deeply political, and grapples with the complexities of post-colonial Africa and issues of representation. Funded through the generosity of Los Angeles philanthropists and art collectors Jarl and Pamela Mohn, the $100,000 award will be granted over two years to Mokgosi and will be accompanied by the publication of a monograph about his work. While a jury of professional curators selected five finalists from among the 60 artists in the exhibition Made in L.A. 2012, the Mohn Award recipient was chosen by visitors to the exhibition through online and on-site voting. Public voting began on June 28 and ended August 12. The public was asked to choose their favorite artist from the five jury-selected finalists.
FIVE FINALISTS FOR THE MOHN AWARD:
• Simone Forti (Born 1935 in Florence, Italy; lives and works in Westwood) Work on view at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery in Barnsdall Park and performances scheduled at both the Hammer and Barnsdall in August.
• Liz Glynn (Born 1981 in Boston, MA; lives and works in Chinatown) Work on view at the Hammer Museum.
• Meleko Mokgosi (Born 1981 in Gaborone, Botswana; lives and works in Culver City) Work on view at the Hammer Museum.
• Slanguage (Karla Diaz born 1976 in Los Angeles & Mario Ybarra Jr. born 1973 in Los Angeles; both live and work in Wilmington) Programs throughout the summer and work on view at LA><ART.
• Erika Vogt (Born 1973 in East Newark, New Jersey; lives and works in Highland Park) Work on view at the Hammer Museum.
THE MOHN AWARD JURY:
• Cecilia Alemani, curator and director of High Line Art Program
• Doryun Chong, associate curator at the Museum of Modern Art
• Rita Gonzalez, curator of contemporary art at LACMA
• Anthony Huberman, independent curator and writer
ABOUT THE ARTIST:
Meleko Mokgosi uses painting to interrogate the limits of representation, the politics of abstraction, and the dynamics created when viewing representational canvases on institutional gallery walls. The artist’s technical acuity delivers a kind of critical visuality, asking viewers to draw out affinities between experiencing and interpreting. The work on view at the Hammer is part of a larger series dealing with post-colonial Africa. Pax Kaffraria: Sikhuselo Sembumbulu (2012) addresses the question of nationalism in relation to globalization and resistance. The work meditates on sikhuselo sembumbulu, a Xhosa term meaning “bulletproof.” This is a reference to the Xhosa cattle killings of 1856–57, which were intended to drive away colonial powers and simultaneously resurrect ancestors. The series of paintings frames the historic event and considers a legacy of resistance that continues today—namely, the persistent drive to become bulletproof. At the same time this history is represented as only partially available to viewers, suggesting the difficulty of cultural translation.