Open Society Foundations Announce 2023 Soros Arts Fellows
NEW YORK—The Open Society Foundations today announced the recipients of their 2023 Soros Arts Fellowships, the preeminent award supporting socially engaged art. This year marks the fellowship’s largest cohort, awarding $100,000 to 18 mid-career artists for impact-driven art projects that propose bold solutions to address the climate crisis, reclaim and uplift indigenous knowledge, and imagine and build sustainable futures.
Open Society’s 2023 Fellowships are centered around the theme of “Art, Land, and Public Memory,” focusing on artists who are pursuing projects that offer tangible solutions to address environmental harms. The fellowships recognize artists from around the world—from Brazil, Colombia, Guinea, Iraq, Mexico, Morocco, Palestine, Philippines, Portugal, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, South Africa, Syria, Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara, Lakota Tribes, the U.S. and their diasporas. Their work also engages communities in which they work across the Global South, places often on the frontlines of the climate crisis and environmental injustice driven by global settler colonialism, capitalism, and white supremacy.
“Art and culture are essential drivers for social change,” said Tatiana Mouarbes, Open Society’s team manager for Culture and Art, Expression. “One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century is the health of our planet. Through their art and culture work, the 2023 Soros Arts Fellows are taking action to help heal a planet in crisis through community-led solutions for environmental justice. We are proud to support their visions.”
In addition to unrestricted funding, the fellowships offer recipients a holistic suite of services and resources to help the artists build sustainable artistic careers, including leadership development, mentorship, peer-to-peer exchanges, and networking opportunities.
Working in diverse forms and global contexts, some of the artists and projects include:
- Chemi Rosado-Seijo (Puerto Rico) is working with residents to transform the community of El Cerro into a “Green Barriada,” a self-sustaining and environmentally resilient community
- Martha Atienza (Philippines) is creating a series of collaborative artworks with fishing communities of Bantayan Island to raise awareness of environmental justice, displacement, and cultural erasure
- Mónica De Miranda (Portugal) is working with African migrant communities in Lisbon to document stories of migration and land ecologies, bringing together artists, activists, and ecologists to reimagine more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable public spaces
- Jordan Weber (U.S.) is producing a regenerative ecologies project to transform a square acre of forest in East Detroit into an air remediation zone, trauma informed community center, and open-air environmental justice classroom
With a long history of supporting arts and culture to advance social change, the Open Society Foundations recognize the importance of artists’ contributions and the essential role that art plays in civic discourse and open societies. In particular, the Foundations seek to honor the aesthetic, political, and capacity needs of arts leaders, individual artists, and cultural activists.
Since 2018, the Soros Arts Fellowship has awarded more than $3 million in unrestricted funding to 29 artists around the world; this year’s $1.7 million is the largest annual amount to date. The fellowship was on a hiatus from 2021–2022 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when more than $500,000 was awarded to support existing fellows.
The 2023 Soros Arts Fellowship selection committee includes Azu Nwagbogu, curator and founder of African Artists' Foundation; Diane Lima, curator of the 35th Bienal de São Paulo; Eriola Pira, curator at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics; Helena Nassif, director of Culture Resource (Al Mawred Al Thaqafy); Paulina Suárez, general director of Ambulante; Rocío Aranda-Alvarado, senior program officer, Creativity and Free Expression, Ford Foundation; Siobhan Riordan, consultant and creative Strategist; Tania El Khoury, artist and director of the Center for Human Rights and the Arts at Bard College; Open Society’s Culture and Art staffers Tatiana Mouarbes, Ayoka Wiles, and Ibrahima Niang, and Alvin Starks, director, Narrative and Culture Change at Open Society-United States.
2023 Soros Arts Fellows
Bilia Bah will produce a collaborative and participatory theater production to launch public dialogue around climate change, urbanization, and the impacts of unregulated water drilling across Conakry, Guinea.
Cannupa Hanska Luger will publish SURVIVA, centering Indigenous knowledge and survival practices related to land, climate, and the environment— and to boldly assert how Indigenous technologies are critical to sustaining life and humanity worldwide.
Carolina Caycedo will produce We Place Life at the Center—Situamos la vida al centro, bringing together ancestral and embodied approaches to the natural world as alternatives to the global climate crisis, grounded in field research and engagement with Natives, campesino/peasant communities, and climate activists throughout the Americas.
Chemi Rosado-Seijo will work with residents of El Cerro, Puerto Rico, to transform the community into a “Green Barriada,” a self-sustaining and environmentally resilient community.
Dalton Paula will organize Quilombo-Escola, an arts and education project that supports Afro-Brazilian artists through artistic residencies and training, and fosters community collaboration and exchanges with art, the environment, and ancestral and traditional knowledge rooted in a Quilombo perspective across Brazil.
Deborah Jack will create To Make A Map of My Memory: Wayfinding Along Synaptic Topographies, linking cultural memory preservation in St. Maarten with climate justice through an archive of oral histories, a connected film and multimedia installation.
Fehras Publishing Practices (Kenan Darwich and Sami Rustom) will create Hader Halal (With Regard to Presence) a multi-format project that aims to reclaim forgotten collective memory in the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa region and rewrite narratives of modern Arab history from a queer, migrant, and feminist perspective.
Ixchel Tonāntzin Xōchitlzihuatl will organize We the Trees, a multi-tribal art and land rematriation project in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Jordan Weber will organize a regenerative ecologies project in East Detroit that will revitalize a square acre of forest as an air remediation zone, a trauma informed community center, an open-air environmental justice classroom, and a site for conifer tree transplants to counter the harmful effects of pollution from nearby automobile plants.
Martha Atienza will organize collaborative artworks and actions with fisherfolk and farmer communities on Bantayan Island and its group of islets in the Philippines for Tigpanalipod (The Protectors) to raise awareness around environmental justice, displacement, and cultural erasure.
Molemo Moiloa will produce a series of art and community engaged works under the framework of the “house of ungovernability,” an informal center for sharing and co-developing tactics for sustaining in times of uncertainty, rooted in our relationships to the land.
Mónica de Miranda will work with African migrant communities in Lisbon to document stories of migration and land ecologies for Where cities are invisible, gardens grow, bringing together artists, activists, and ecologists to reimagine more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable public spaces.
Nida Sinnokrot will produce Storytelling Stones: How far does your mother’s voice carry?, a series of collaborative and site-specific sculptures that uplift indigenous practices and reclaim cultural memory, expand discourse and action on environmental justice, and activate public spaces in ways that are resonant and impactful for Palestinian and indigenous communities globally.
Omar Berrada will examine anti-Black racism in North Africa and propose poetic re-articulations of Moroccan identity, reclaiming marginalized narratives and invoking histories of pan-African solidarity.
Rijin Sahakian, through images and text, will trace the legacies of war-making on the physical, cultural, and psychic landscapes between Iraq and America, centering the Iraqi experience.
Sari Dennise will organize Almárcigo, a collaborative, multidisciplinary, and archival project with communities in Xochimilco, Mexico to preserve and articulate water-related knowledge and practices, and promote shared learning around alternative ways of being with the environment.
Yto Barrada will expand botanical literacy to disseminate radical ways of making and thinking with the Mothership Manifesto, a collaborative, multidisciplinary, transgenerational and educational textile project at the Mothership, an eco-feminist residency, garden, and studio in Tangier, Morocco.
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