The AFIELD Network Announces 2023 Fellows
Anchored in the fundamental belief that artists are essential to the fabric of society, AFIELD grants 3 annual fellowships of US$10,000 to artists and cultural practitioners who have initiated social projects, catalyzing change and empowering their communities.
These “AFIELD Fellows” have been selected from 24 nominations through a collective process by the AFIELD network (approx. 50 members). In addition, 2 shortlisted candidates are also invited to join the network as “AFIELD Peers” and will take part in all future events, and gatherings. This year’s peers are Joana Hadjithomas (Lebanon) and Sébastien Thiéry (France).
THE THREE 2023 FELLOWS ARE
LOUIS OKE-AGBO (PORTO-NOVO, BÉNIN)
Visual artist and photographer Louis Oke-Agbo generates empathy through his practice by exploring social issues relating to history, race, culture, gender and identity. Beside his artistic career, he has devoted himself to helping people with disabilities by training in the field and creating an NGO. He believes in photography as a tool for healing, uncovering histories, creating connections, building awareness and nurturing communication between people.
‘Vie et Solidarité’ (Life and Solidarity) Art Therapy Center is an NGO that facilitates the social rehabilitation and professional integration of mentally, physically and visually impaired people, in Porto-Novo, Benin. Established in 2015, the initiative runs workshops for artistic expression in dance, music, photography, painting, pottery, and literacy-building. It aims to also raise awareness among medical, social, and cultural communities about Art Therapy as a logical extension of medical treatment.
ELISA SILVA (CARACAS, VENEZUELA)
American-Venezuelan architect Elisa Silva centers her work around raising awareness about spatial inequality within urban environments through innovative public space projects, the integration of informal settlements, and community engagement in rural landscapes. She is the director and founder of Enlace Arquitectura and Enlace Foundation, two established organisations dedicated to promoting urban integration, particularly in the barrios (self-built neighborhoods), through participatory design processes and cultural programs.
‘La Casa de Todos’ (Everyone’s House) is a community-led cultural space in the barrio La Palomera, in Caracas, Venezuela. Through workshops and courses in the art, theatre, cooking, dance and more, the initiative aims to create a permanent space for diverse audiences, bridging the gap between barrio and non-barrio residents. It strives to be an inclusive and participatory model for city development favouring integration across socioeconomic and geographic borders
NECATI SÖNMEZ (ISTANBUL, TURKEY & BERLIN, GERMANY)
Turkish critic, journalist and documentary filmmaker, Necati Sönmez is a key figure in the film scene. Having frequently published writings on culture and politics, regularly served as juror for film festivals, and won several awards, he is perhaps most recognised for having co-founded and programmed the prominent film festival ‘Documentarist’ since 2008; a destination and community that screens films beyond the taste of main-stream festivals and institutions.
‘Mavi Kuş Dayanışma’ (Blue Bird Solidarity) organises free workshops with artists, activists and educators to create safe spaces and provide psychosocial support for children, in Hatay, Turkey. Launched in February 2023, just after the devastating earthquake that struck southern Turkey and northern Syria, the initiative provides longterm care and creative support to thousands of children deprived of education and social services.