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Interview

ING Unseen Talent Award 2019: Meet Kevin Osepa

text:
Futures Photography
Date:
September 12, 2019
Every year, ING, Unseen, and Futures work together for the ING Unseen Talent Awards. For this edition, it was selected five finalists from Futures: Elena Aya Bundurakis, Ulla Deventer, Irene Fenara, Kevin Osepa and Karolina Wojtas. The winners will be announced on the 19th of September.

Coached by Adam Broomberg, from the artistic duo Broomberg & Chanarin, the five finalists are currently producing the exhibition 'Nature of Change', that will be opened during the Unseen Amsterdam, between the 20th and 22nd of September.

In this interview, meet one of the finalists, Kevin Osepa. Osepa was born and raised on the island of Curaçao. Currently, he is based in the Netherlands. In his works, he explores themes such as family, rituals, and pre and post-colonialism from an Afro-Caribbean perspective. Often departing from a personal point but always looking for the collective identity.

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Can you explain to us a little about your practice? What inspires you?

I think the answer to this question always shifts through time. But one thing that I see that still is consistent is my exploration of Afro-Caribbean identity. Within my work, I try to explore different layers of this identity. Mostly from a more personal point of view but always trying to make a connection with the collective identity. Most of the stories I try to tell and the themes that I deal with in my work, though personal are still not only my own but something I share with a lot of people from the Caribbean.

Currently, I am very inspired by Afro spirituality, Brua (A mix of different afro Caribbean religions practiced on the island of Aruba, Bonaire, and Curaçao), family, sexuality, resistance (pre and post-colonial), etc.

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As one of the finalists of the ING Unseen Talent Award, you're going to participate in an exhibition during the Unseen Amsterdam. What have you been working on for the exhibition?

For this exhibition, I will be presenting work as the start of a new project that I am developing. I am currently researching barbershops that are frequently visited by the black community. These spaces are seen as safe spaces for black men (especially in Western countries where racism is playing a role). A place where these men can come together and just be themselves, speak about everyday topics to more serious issues, like mental health. But in this same space, you can find a lot of hyper-masculinity that is paired with homophobia.

The same space is a very intimidating place for a lot of black gay men, and these men lose valued memberships to this type of institutions that have a legacy of uplifting the black community.

So, for the theme of the exhibition, ‘Nature of Change’, I wanted to do more work in the field, so I did a semi residency in a barbershop. There I tried to capture moments where this tender ritual of a man grooming another man is what takes center stage. And all that hyper-masculinity fades away. Also, I wanted to start this conversation and bring it to the foreground, because through my research I've discovered a lot of unawareness surrounding this issue. My task as an artist is not to convince, I think for me it is important that I can start the conversation and let the process of change take its course.

In this process, you have been tutored by Adam Broomberg. How has this experience been for you?

It has been a very intense couple of weeks with Adam. Adam is straight to the point. Adam is here to talk about the work and Adam is here to help you move forward with your practice. He gives you the tools to be self-critical and this process is not always the most fun. But you see the fruits at the end, and that is what counts. I also appreciate the fact that I can see genuineness.  

I think the best thing that I take away from him is that we all have strategies in our practice, but we need to also look at the story we want to tell, and we do not need to always fall back on these strategies. But look at the story and find what this particular story needs (even if it makes you hell of uncomfortable). I think I will take that with me for the further development of my practice.

Support your favorite artist for the ING Unseen Talent Award 2019. The online public voting is now open! You can choose between the five Futures Talents who are finalists of the award.

Vote here

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