I am grateful to have been invited as one of the jurors for The Hopper Prize, which has given me access to a wide range of incredible artistic practices, and the possibility of taking time to explore them in detail. When selecting the finalists, I found myself returning to work that makes use of multiple, distinctive materials, looking at how they interact and react with each other, how they occupy and share spaces and how our bodies respond to them. I was thinking about how materials, whether man-made or natural, when combined and contextualized in new ways, can trigger symbolic and affective associations, languages and perhaps ultimately, new ‘worlds’. With this in mind, I was also drawn to work that explores how we shape non-verbal languages, and how these languages can help us conceive new notions of world building.
Andreia Santana takes survival strategies as a starting point, in order to reimagine protective spaces for bodies, human or non-human. In her sculptures, she makes use of contrasting materials, including glass and metal, and their properties – opacity and transparency, fragility and resilience – to create vessel-like sculptures, which look something between archaeological remains and relics from the future. In a world where hierarchies of bodies (land, flesh and water) constrain our ability to be, Santana imagines a fluid way of living, free of boundaries and categorisation.
Anna Perach’s work looks at personal narratives, particularly from the perspective of a gender and identity, which she interweaves with ancient folklore and storytelling. Perach creates wearable sculptures that combine soft and hard material, some resembling corsets that have been broken free of by the mutability of the female body. Clearly alluding to both her heritage and to domestic objects and traditions, she makes use of tufting to create soft layers of something akin to a second skin, that inhabit and expand beyond the confines of their steel structures.
Jimena Chávez Delion looks at the precariousness of globalized capitalism, and how we exist, individually and collectively, within its constraints. Creating installations comprised of video, drawing and sculpture, Delion reimagines objects that are familiar to us in specific context, particularly within Western societies, subverting normative and heterogeneous social dynamics to reflect individual, site specific, socio-economic experiences. Using found, corporate objects mixed with crafted or found materials, the artist is interested in how transactions (monetary or human) function within different cultures, and how materials are used as mediators.
Inês Costa is Curator at Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea since March 2023. Previously, she was Assistant Curator at Whitechapel Gallery, London, where she has worked on various exhibitions and accompanying publications, such as ‘Zadie Xa: House Gods, Animal Guides and Five Ways 2 Forgiveness’ (2022–23); ‘The London Open’ (2022); ‘Nalini Malani: Can You Hear Me?’ (2020–21); ‘Carlos Bunga: Something Necessary and Useful’ (2020); Anna Maria Maiolino: Making Love Revolutionary’ (2019–20); “la Caixa” Collection of Contemporary Art’ (2019–20) and; Killed Negatives: Unseen Images of 1930s America’ (2018). Recent independent curatorial projects include ‘Swayze effect’ (2019), Platform Southwark, London; ‘Geltung [Validity]: perception of a natural right’ (2017), GENERATORprojects, Dundee; and ‘IT IS PROBABLY BETTER TO START FROM ZERO’ (2016–17), Window Space, London. She was co-founder of Agorama, a collective of creative practitioners focusing on the critical exploration of digital network culture through public events, residencies and collective research groups, in residency at Raven Row, London (2018–20).