Selma Selman wins 12th edition ABN AMRO Art Prize

Selma Selman Platinum, performance, 2021. Photo: Damir Šagolj

Selma Selman is the winner of the twelfth edition of the ABN AMRO Art Prize. The jury sees Selman as a driven and committed artist. In paintings, performances, videos and installations she addresses the position of women, traditional gender roles and the appreciation of labour and materials in her own unique way. With the ABN AMRO Art Prize, the bank supports promising female talent in their development and brings their work to the attention of the largest possible audience. As part of the prize, Selma Selman will receive an exhibition in January 2025 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam and in the ABN AMRO Art Space on the Zuidas.

The jury admires Selman’s unique and fearless attitude and the way in which she – raised in a Roma family during and after the Bosnian Civil War – transforms her personal experiences into current and universal themes. Coming from a family of scrap dealers, she knows better than anyone the importance of recycling and transformation. The jury is enthusiastic about the way in which she manages to elevate this reuse to the core of her work. She asks questions about economic structures, minorities and prejudices. This can be seen in Paintings on Metal, an ongoing series in which she paints scrap metal objects, giving rough metal objects an unexpectedly sensitive and often surreal twist. She also regularly elevates the work of demolition workers into performances in which she questions, among other things, the difference in economic.

The jury appreciates Selman’s activist approach and the way she uses her work to question and improve the position of women and girls in the Roma community. The strength and self-reliance of women in a patriarchal society are always central. The jury is also impressed by the way in which she links her recently developed method of distilling gold from computer motherboards to the independence of women from her community. For example, through her Get The Heck To School foundation, Selman encourages better education for girls, including from her hometown of Bihać, in order to break their usual life cycle. According to the jury, the fact that Selman regards the Foundation as part of her work is indicative of her practice.

Danila Cahen, curator of the ABN AMRO Art Collection and jury member of the ABN AMRO Art Prize: “According to the jury, Selma Selman is an inspiring artist with an oeuvre that has a strong individual character. It is powerful and vulnerable at the same time. Through the social impact of her work, she also makes us think about discrimination, prejudice and human rights.”

Selma Selman has proven herself in recent years with important exhibitions abroad. Nevertheless, she is less known to a broad Dutch audience. The jury believes that her work deserves more attention in the Netherlands, and believes this is an excellent moment to support her in this. That is why Selma Selman will receive a solo exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam as part of the ABN AMRO Art Prize at the end of January 2025.

Rein Wolfs, director of the Stedelijk Museum: ‘Selma Selman’s work is unique because of her ability to transform personal experiences and recycled scrap into powerful art combined with strong performances that challenge economic and social structures to promote the emancipation of women. That is why we are proud to offer the 12th winner of the Art Prize a stage in the Stedelijk Museum.’

Selma Selman (1991) comes from Bosnia and Herzegovina and lives and works in New York, Amsterdam and Bihać. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Banja Luka (BA) and a master’s degree in Visual and Performing Arts from Syracuse University (NY). She subsequently worked as a resident artist at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam. Selman’s work has been shown at international solo and group exhibitions at, among others, the Röda Sten Konstall, Gothenburg (2024); Gropius Bau, Berlin (2023); Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2023); Documenta 15, Kassel (2022); Manifesta 14, Pristina (2022); Fries Museum, Leeuwarden, NL (2022) and MO Museum Vilnius, Vilnius (2022). Her exhibition recently opened at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt. Selma Selman is the founder of ‘Get The Heck To School’, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of Roma girls around the world who face social exclusion and poverty.   4th July 2024

Jury praises the artist’s unique and fearless attitude and ability to translate personal experiences into universal themes; exhibition winner can be seen at the end of January 2025 in Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.