The Vera List Center for Art and Politics has announced Australian Aboriginal artist collective proppaNOW as the recipient of the 2022–24 Jane Lombard Prize for Art and Social Justice. The Meanjin/Brisbane–based collective was chosen for the honor, which is attended by a $25,000 cash prize, for its 2021 exhibition “OCCURRENT AFFAIR,” at the University of Queensland Art Museum, showcasing new and recent works by its members and addressing “current sociopolitical, economic and environmental issues while celebrating the strength, resilience and continuity of Aboriginal culture,” according to a curatorial statement.
Voting unanimously in their favor was an award jury chaired by Simone Leigh, who won the Golden Lion at this year’s Venice Biennale, and additionally comprising Carin Kuoni, Cuauhtémoc Medina, Wanda Nanibush, and Rasha Salti. In a joint statement, the jury members praised proppaNOW for its efforts in pushing back against “the invisibility of urban Aboriginal contemporary art,” noting that it has “broken with expectations of what is proper (‘proppa’) in Aboriginal art; created a new sovereign space for First Nations artists internationally outside colonial stereotypes, desires for authenticity, and capitalist capitulations; and opened new political imaginaries.”
The Jane Lombard Prize, which honors outstanding achievements in art and politics and recognizes artworks that advance social justice, took as its theme this year “Correction.” proppaNOW, which was established in 2003 to bring attention to urban Aboriginal artists and to combat the traditional expectations placed on such artists by colonizers, was one of five finalists for the prize, alongside Colectivo Cherani for Cherán Cultural Center; Khalil Rabah for The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind; KUNCI Study Forum & Collective for School of Improper Education; and The Africa Cluster of the Another Roadmap School. The collective’s project will be exhibited at New York’s Vera List Center next fall.