BRITISH video artists Jenn Nkiru and Maryam Tafakory have won the 2019 Aesthetica Art Prize awards in York.

Selected from a shortlist of 18 artists, the winners were announced at last night's private view of Future Greats, the Art Prize exhibition at York Art Gallery.

Jenn Nkiru was awarded the main prize for Rebirth Is Necessary, including £5,000 prize money, and fellow filmmaker Maryam Tafakory won the prize for emerging artist for I Have Sinned A Rapturous Sin, receiving £1,000.

In addition, commendation awards were presented to shortlisted artists Ludivine Large-Bessette, from France, for Drop Out Bodies, and to Teppei Yamada, from Japan, for Apart And/Or Together.

Examining themes ranging from technology, urbanisation and digitisation to population growth, ecological destruction and climate change, the artworks in the annual competition’s 2019 edition draw on both personal and universal narratives.

“The shortlisted works ask the question: in the age of globalisation, where culture is becoming homogenised and identity is fluid, what does this all mean for the individual?” says Cherie Federico, director of York’s international arts and culture publication, Aesthetica Magazine, which runs the competition and accompanying exhibition for established artists and burgeoning talent.

Focused on “the magic of Blackness in a realm where time and space are altered”, Rebirth Is Necessary is the summation of filmmaker Jenn Nkiru’s loaded feelings and questions about black people, the black experience and the idea of black universality. Created as a source of therapy and inspiration, it is both visceral and soulful, using a soundtrack that features James Baldwin, Sun Ra and Chance The Rapper, as well as quoted material from Alice Coltrane, Audre Lorde and Kwame Nkrumah.

Interested in the contradictory images of women and how they are portrayed through religion, Maryam Tafakory’s I Have Sinned A Rapturous Sin brings together fragments of Forugh Farrokhzad’s poem Sin.

Using images of a male carder preparing cotton for a mattress, her film is set against religious clerics instructing women to suppress their sexual desires. Having lived within and outside of an Islamic identify, Tafakory offers a collage of visual and textual materials that, at times, contradict each other.

Cherie, who has run the competition for 12 years, says: “Throughout the 2019 curation process there was a constant reminder of how the modern world is affecting our daily lives. I’m delighted that through the prize, we can focus our efforts on global dialogues. The shortlisted works examine both the positives and negatives of the time in which we live.”

The Aesthetica Art Prize exhibition runs until July 14 at York Art Gallery, where the winning works are presented alongside the 18 shortlisted artists, as well as those longlisted for the 2019 prize.