11 Emerging Female Contemporary Artists to Watch in 2023
Another year, another thrilling slew of female rising stars to look out for.
From Los Angeles to Beirut, meet 11 emerging women-identifying contemporary artists on our radar for 2023 – five of which have been shortlisted for the Max Mara Art Prize for Women, an award given every two years in collaboration with London’s Whitechapel Gallery.
Never a dull moment in the art world!
Installation view from BLOUDSOUND, 2022. Commissioned by Transmissions Glasgow. Photo: Matthew Arthur Williams. Courtesy of the artist.
A trained dancer, Zinzi Minott explores the relationship between dance and politics.
Between 2017 and 2018, Minott became the first dancer to be an artist-in-residence at both the Serpentine Gallery and Tate London.
Commissioned by Transmissions Glasgow, her 2022 work, “Bloodsound, A Fugitive Entity”, featured works of prints, moving image, sound, and sculpture in commemoration of the Windrush Generation (a group of people who arrived in the UK from Caribbean countries between 1948 and 1973), thus “entangling the experiences of class, queerness, gender, and the contemporary legacies of transatlantic slavery”.
Minott is one of the five emerging female contemporary artists shortlisted for the 2023 Max Mara Art Prize for Women.
HE Zike, SAROS, 2022. Film still, Video, 15′18″. Courtesy of the artist.
With a focus on personal/temporal perception among technological environments, He Zike’s work encompasses video, writing, installation and computer programs.
In 2021, she co-initiated the curatorial project “Under The Cloud” along with Iris Long –encouraging in-situ investigations and experiences at “techno-infrastructure” sites in southwest China, specifically her hometown of Guiyang, which happens to be China’s “Data Capital”.
In 2023, she became a resident at Pro Helvetia – Switzerland’s global cultural exchange programme – where she is exploring the ways that storage, diaspora and shelter connect China and the mountainous regions of the European country.
Dalia Khalife, installation view of TRUE SWEAT OR ULTRA FIRE FINISH LINE. Exhibited in Ashkal Alwan, Beirut, 2019 and Mediterranea 19 Young Artists Biennale, San Marino, 2021. Courtesy of the artist.
The Beirut-based artist, scenographer, and performance artist Dalia Khalife “intuitively” examines psychophysiological happenings, plus elements of spectacle and play within power structures, social events and rituals.
Her work often blurs the visual with the performative.
Her 2021 video-installation, True Sweat Or Ultra Fire Finish Line, tapped into the urine-collection process of racehorses at Beirut’s horse racing stadium in an outsider examination of the traditions – and the absurdities – of the hierarchies that operate within Middle Eastern race betting.
Bhajan Hunjan, St Paul's Way - Street Regeneration Project, 2012. Collaboration with St Paul's Way Trust school & Local community Groups. Commissioned by Tower Hamlets Council & supported by Bow Arts, London. Photo: Oliver Harrop. Courtesy of the artist.
With a growing focus on public art commissions and a visual lexicon composed of free-floating lines and bright colours, Bhajan Hunjan tends to work on large-scale projects in stone and metal, often formulated as participatory models in their respective communities.
In 2021, as part of the Bow Arts Artists community in the housing project Thamesmead, she developed an installation using natural materials on Stephen Turner's “Exbury Egg” in southern England.
Hunjan is one of the five emerging contemporary artists shortlisted for the 2023 Max Mara Art Prize for Women in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery.
Farah Mulla, Adventitious, installation view of “Growing Like a Tree: Sent A Letter”, 2022, Ishara Art Foundation in partnership with Sunaparanta Goa Centre for the Arts, Goa, India. Photo: Sohrab Hura.
Curious about sensation and perception processes, the Goa-based multimedia artist Farah Mulla uses sensorial interfaces in an attempt to “deploy a language that gives form to intangible and varied materials.”
According to the artist, her research and art practice explores the space in between sensory thresholds where harmony isn’t present in the environment but fabricated by our cognition.
Approaching the listening experience and the invisible agency of sound via multiple modes of enquiry, she experiments with sensory overlaps and materiality through different texts, sounds, and circuits. Where the interface becomes a site that attributes the work its interactive affordance and form.
Selma Selman, Platinum, 2021. Performance 2h 30 min. National Gallery, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Photo: Damir Sagolj.
Selma Selman is from Bosnia-Herzegovina with Romani origins, an identity that has strongly influenced firsthand experiences of oppression.
Her artistic goal is to protect and enable female bodies and enact a “cross-scalar approach” to the collective self-emancipation of oppressed women.
In 2017, she set up the project “Get the Heck to School”, a fundraising endeavour to provide scholarships and school meals to Roma girls and empower their education.
Installation view from You have any peace for me? C.R.Y, 2022. Photo: Thierry Bal. Courtesy of Rebecca Bellantoni/Brent Biennial.
With a varied practice that includes moving image, installation, performance, photography, textiles, printmaking, sculpture, sound-text and ceramics, London-based artist Rebecca Bellantoni “mines everyday occurrences and abstracts them”.
Her research is inspired by the research of Katherine McKittrick – Professor and Canada Research Chair in Black Studies at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada - and specifically the idea of Black women’s geography, “created through the negotiations of space”.
Bellantoni is one of the five emerging female contemporary artists shortlisted for the 2023 Max Mara Art Prize for Women in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery.
Los Angeles-based artist Panteha Abareshi creates work that is rooted in her existence as a body with sickle cell zero beta thalassemia – an inherited, lifelong blood condition that causes pain and bodily deterioration – in unison with her own notions of gender, racial and sexual identity.
Her 2022 show “This Is Not A Body” at Hunter Shaw Fine Art in Los Angeles was a personal investigation of the erasure of sick and disabled bodies.
It featured sculptural works incorporating prosthetics and mobility aids as well as a video work addressing the dehumanising methodology of the medical industry.
Petrifying basin (kisses with the nymphs), 2022, exhibition view Hannah Villeger : Amaze me, Muzeum Susch, Switzerland, Art Stations Foundation. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Federico Sette.
The Geneva-based French artist Lou Masduraud works with sculpture, installation, and performance to create “phantasmagorical worlds which are alternatives to dominant realities”.
Her 2022 site-specific installation Wet Man at the Mayday exhibition space in Basel, Switzerland, references the former use of the exhibition space as the shipping company's shower rooms via a constellation of water systems.
Dominique White, Land, Nation-State, Empire, 2022. Mahogany, charred mahogany, forged iron, raffia, kaolin clay, nul sails. Photo: Andrea Rossetti. Courtesy of Fondazione MAXXI, VEDA and the artist.
Based between Marseille, France and Essex, England, Dominique White weaves together the theories of Black Subjectivity, Afro-pessimism, and Hydrarchy with the nautical myths of Black Diaspora into what she refers to as the “Shipwreck(ed)”.
Her artistic research is largely inspired by the sounds of Detroit techno and electronic with references to Afrofuturist narratives.
White is one of the five emerging contemporary artists shortlisted for the 2023 Max Mara Art Prize for Women in collaboration with Whitechapel Gallery.
Onyeka Igwe, The Names (Still), 2019. Video, 25:48 mins. Courtesy of Onyeka Igwe.
How do we live together? London artist-filmmaker Onyeka Igwe is particularly interested in the ways the “sensorial, spatiality, and non-canonical ways of knowing can provide answers” to that question.
Her “figure-of-eights” format exposes a “multiplicity of narratives”. Igwe is one of the five artists shortlisted for the 2023 Max Mara Art Prize for Women.
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Cover: Julian Skot Ritom/Sound of Life
Writer | Bana Bissat
Bana Bissat is a Milan-based writer who reports on sound art for Sound of Life. She has written for Flash Art, Lampoon, and Cultured. @banabissat