Grace Ndiritu’s spiritual and political film work wins this year’s Jarman Award
The jury cited two of Nditiru’s recent films as demonstrating her disruptive practice, “underpinned by a strong commitment to political, social and spiritual values”.
- Olivia Hingley
- 24 November 2022
This year’s Jarman Award has been received by Grace Ndiritu, an artist and filmmaker whose practice spans moving image, performance art, publishing and fashion. The London-based award, founded in 2008, each year seeks to platform some of the most groundbreaking filmmaking, with a £10,000 prize for the winner. Working at the intersection of the spiritual and the political, Grace won over the judges with her meditative and sometimes uncanny explorations of how humanity can transform and heal itself amongst the furore of contemporary society, as well as her dealing with issues of environmental justice and indigenous land rights. This year’s panel featured Iwona Blazwick OBE, Matthew Barrington, Barbican, Channel 4, Nicole Yip and last year’s winner Jasmina Cibic, among others.
From Grace’s recent oeuvre through to the two-screen film Black Beauty: For a Shamanic Cinema (2022), she fabricates a meeting between a Black model and talk show host in conversation with the writer Jorge Luis Borges, debating climate change, pandemics, migration, colonialism and time travel. The film is an interesting foray into fabrication and “truth”, with the press release explaining that audiences have mistaken the fictional work as archival footage. In Becoming Plant (2022), six dancers live together on a demilitarised industrial site, using psychedelics to induce a therapeutic group experiment, a film which “serves as a catalyst to discuss wider social and relational issues such as science, spirituality, psychiatry, healing, healthcare and the problems of collective depression and trauma resulting from life in the age of Late Capitalism”.
The topics Grace’s work grapples with are mirrored in her real-life experiences. In 2012 Grace “took the radical decision to reject urban life and consumerism and live a nomadic existence in rural, alternative and often spiritual communities”, the press release explains. She has since lived in Thai and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, permaculture communities in New Zealand, with forest tree dwellers in Argentina, a Hare Krishna ashram and the Findhorn New Age community in Scotland. During this movement, Grace’s work has been shown at the British Art Show, Chisenhale Gallery, Camden Arts Centre, ICA and Centre Pompidou, among many others.
Outlining why Grace received the award, members of the jury says: “With a highly individual filmmaking practice underpinned by a strong commitment to political, social and spiritual values [...] Her broad and prolific practice carries a distinct stylistic signature in work that is sincere and genuine, that both provokes and entertains.” Other shortlisted nominees included Alberta Whittle, Morgan Quintance, Jamie Crewe and Onyeka Igwe. Of the line up and ceremony, Adrian Wootton, chief executive of Film London and British Film Commission says: “Risk-taking in both subject matter and form, the 2022 shortlist showcases a diversity of themes that question and articulate the world around us and we are delighted to be able to showcase their work in this way, bringing artists’ moving image to an ever growing audience.”
Grace Ndiritu: Becoming Plant (Copyright © Jasmina Cibic, 2022)
About the Author
Olivia (she/her) joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in November 2021 and soon became staff writer. A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with a degree in English literature and history, she’s particularly interested in photography, publications and type design.