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Tiona Nekkia McClodden Wins Whitney's 2019 Bucksbaum Award

NEW YORK—Interdisciplinary Philadelphia-based artist Tiona Nekkia McClodden has won the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Bucksbaum Award, which was founded in 2000 by the Bucksbaum Family Foundation to recognize an artist featured in the current edition of the Whitney Biennial. Its previous awardees include Pope.L, in 2017, and Zoe Leonard, in 2014. “McClodden’s work is bold and original and her contribution to the Biennial is extraordinarily rich with cultural, historical, and spiritual resonances,” said Whitney director Adam D. Weinberg. McClodden is one of seventy-four artists in the biennial, which closes on September 22.

McClodden’s work for the biennial, a multichannel video installation titled I prayed to the wrong god for you, includes three projection screens and monitors, as well as vitrines that display ritualistic objects from the videos. The work intimately charts McClodden’s initiation into the Afro-Cuban religion Santería/Lucumí, developed by the descendants of West Africans.

“The thing the art world fears most is religion,” McClodden said in an as-told-to interview with Artforum editor in chief David Velasco from the magazine’s May 2019 issue. “Part of the project of restitution is to engage with a mind-set that, for years, people have called ‘savage,’ to understand that African religious intellect is the base concept for these objects, and that it must be respected. To me, the only way to even start the restitution conversation is as a reparative project around knowledge—and you can’t just get this knowledge with a degree.”

September 13, 2019