28 November 2019

Hetain Patel wins Jarman Award 2019

This week at the Barbican Centre, London, Hetain Patel was announced as the winner of the Jarman Award 2019. The Jarman Award, now in its 12th year, recognises and supports UK-based artists working with moving image. Inspired by visionary filmmaker Derek Jarman, the award celebrates experimentation, imagination and innovation. Patel was praised by the judges for ‘the virtuosity, beauty and humour of his works’, which ‘speak clearly of our current condition, trying to make sense of a polarised world that is far messier than we like to acknowledge. His films are technically sophisticated and his use of sound and super slow motion video capture is masterful.’

Speaking to The Guardian’s Tim Jonze, Patel articulated the significance of the award in the context of his own visibility within the art world: ‘The biggest challenge I’ve faced is being recognised as a British artist outside of my ethnicity,’ he says. ‘I’ll get invited to do shows around the subject of diaspora or race. So to be acknowledged for the medium I’m working in, alongside peers I respect and admire? That’s yet another freeing thing for me.’ 

Patel spoke of his 2018 FVU commission Don’t Look at the Finger, which ‘comes from a personal place of wanting to fit in and be accepted. Of course, on paper an afro kung fu sign language film with transforming costumes shouldn’t work. But when you hear or see it, you should feel instantly familiar with it.’

Patel wins £10,000 as part of the award and he hopes to turn his next film, which follows two women who rediscover an ancient universal physical language, into a feature. Patel’s 2017 film The Jump will be showing at Whitechapel Gallery, London, until 8 December 2019, alongside work by the nominated artists – including FVU films No Ordinary Protest by Mikhail Karikis and 15 days by Imran Perretta.

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