We are delighted to announce the recipient of the 2021 Adam Reynolds Award and £10K bursary is writer, artist, and musician, Johanna Hedva.

Throughout the coming months, Johanna will be working collaboratively with ourselves and Hot Knife Digital Media to develop the digital counterpart to their forthcoming sound work and installation, GLUT. The physical installation opens, as part of the group exhibition Illiberal Arts, at The HKW, Berlin in September 2021.

GLUT (a superabundance of nothing) is an inquiry into the knowings and unknowings of embodiment. It is a sound work composed with divination and AI, which manifests as both an immersive physical installation and online video game. The core of GLUT is a sound composition made entirely of Hedva’s voice, ranging from its purest, most raw expression, to its AI vocal clone that’s been manipulated through vocoding processes to sound ever more de-human. The voice speaks and screams a text corpus synthesized from the writings of mystics, theoretical physicists and mathematicians, and the algorithm of amazon.com. In the online video game, users follow a teratoma-like avatar through a non-Euclidean environment of nesting black holes, tunnels, water, and expanses of empty space. The physical installation mirrors this in a subtly eerie immersive room that draws on the hauntingly uncanny settings of films like Get Out and Under the Skin

In all of its iterations, GLUT is rooted in the premise that AI has existed long before computers in the forms of divination and mysticism, and following this premise, GLUT asks what, how, and where we can know and un-know what we think we do. 

Jeff Rowlings, Shape’s Head of Programme said: “We are so thrilled to make this year’s Adam Reynolds Award to Johanna Hedva, whose searingly evocative and disruptive practice across disciplines was a major attraction for us. We are hugely looking forward to working with them as they continue their deep mining into the psyche of our digital environment, exploring compression points where the human meets the inhuman.”

About Johanna Hedva

Johanna Hedva (they/them) is a Korean-American writer, artist, musician, and astrologer, who was raised in Los Angeles by a family of witches and now lives between LA and Berlin. Hedva is the author of Minerva the Miscarriage of the Brain (Sming Sming/Wolfman 2020), a collection of poems, performances, and essays, and the novel On Hell (Sator/Two Dollar Radio 2018). Their album, Black Moon Lilith in Pisces in the 4th House, a doom-metal guitar and voice performance influenced by Korean shamanist ritual, was released in January 2021, and their 2019 album, The Sun and the Moon, had two of its tracks played on the moon. 

Their work has been shown in Berlin at Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Klosterruine, and Institute of Cultural Inquiry; The Institute of Contemporary Arts in London; Performance Space New York; the LA Architecture and Design Museum; and the Museum of Contemporary Art on the Moon. Their writing has appeared in Triple Canopy, frieze, The White Review, and is anthologised in Whitechapel: Documents of Contemporary Art. Their essay, ‘Sick Woman Theory,’ published in 2016 in Mask, has been translated into ten languages.

Image credits:

Banner image is a composite with GLUT represented by white text on a murky backdrop, left, and a monochrome portrait of Johanna Hedva, right. 

Johanna Hedva photograph c. Pamila Payne.

GLUT image c. Johanna Hedva and Johannes Beck

The quote in the GLUT image, which reads: "There is simply no way to hold infinite space in a finite brain", is from the book The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking) by Katie Mack.

The Adam Reynolds Award is our flagship award, set up in 2008 in memory of the life and work of sculptor Adam Reynolds. It is designed to support a mid-career disabled artist looking to develop their practice and build their profile. The award aims to provide an opportunity for artists to develop their ideas and practice without pressure to deliver a particular outcome such as finished or exhibition-ready work. It operates additionally to provide space, time, and financial support within a framework of constructive and creative critical dialogue.

We are very grateful to the Garfield Weston Foundation for their continued support for this unique programme supporting talented disabled artists

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