The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory was granted for the first time on Friday evening. The Croatian curatorial collective What, How & for Whom (WHW) is the first recipient of this lucrative prize. Initiated and funded by ERSTE Foundation, the prize recognises outstanding cultural activities related to the Central and South Eastern European region. Besides the award, the German editor, writer and linguist Fouad Asfour, the Turkish writer Erden Kosova and the Serbian collective Prelom were each awarded with a working grant. The award ceremony, accompanied by the presentation of a new book addressing the work of Igor Zabel, was held in Ljubljana on 21 November 2008.
The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory was granted for the first time in 2008. It acknowledges the work of a cultural protagonist whose work is dedicated to broadening international knowledge of visual culture in the Central and South Eastern European region. The laureate is selected by a renowned international expert committee. The jury was appointed by ERSTE Foundation, and in 2008 consisted of the following members: Eda Čufer, publicist, curator and dramaturge (Slovenia/USA), Josef Dabernig, artist (Austria) and Charles Esche, curator and director of the Van Abbemuseum (Netherlands).
Candidates for the award are international curators, theorists, writers and critics who come from or live and/or work in the region and whose work spans Central and South Eastern Europe. In addition to the award of EUR 40,000, three working grants of EUR 12,000 each were awarded, two by the jury, one by the laureate.
Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory – Winner 2008 (prize money EUR 40,000)
What, How & for Whom, WHW (Ivet Ćurlin, Ana Dević, Nataša Ilić and Sabina Sabolović), is a Zagreb- based curatorial collective founded in 1999. The group became quickly known internationally due to the success of their first projects: What, How and for Whom, on the occasion of the 153rd anniversary of the Communist Manifesto; Broadcasting, a project dedicated to Nikola Tesla; and START dedicated to young artists from the region. WHW is currently curating the 11th Istanbul Biennial (2009). The award has been given to WHW because of their unique working practice as a curatorial collective dedicated to exploring relevant contemporary artistic issues in relation to social issues concerning the world after 1989. The jury views their work as continuing the principles represented in the diverse yet precise practice of Igor Zabel.
Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory – Grants 2008 (EUR 12,000 each)
Fouad Asfour is a linguist. He lives and works in Vienna, ( Austria,) and Johannesburg, (South Africa,) as a freelance writer and is a member of the Johannesburg- based artists’ collective "Dead Revolutionaries Club". Asfour’s gained his specific experience through his engagements in art fields and areas of cultural theories. The jury recognises his specific dialectical method, which gets closer to the subject of the artist in synergy with a critical political disposition, as honourable in the memory of Igor Zabel.
Erden Kosova writes and edits articles for two Istanbul-based contemporary art magazines, art-ist and Resmi Gorus, and is a member of the post-anarchist collective which runs the magazine project Siyahi. Kosova is also a PhD candidate in the Department of Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College in London. He received the awarded as a promising writer who, the jury anticipates, will contribute much to defining the region in a way that does justice to Igor Zabel’s own understanding of the area.
Prelom Kolektiv is a collective from Belgrade. The journal Prelom was established in 2001 as a project of the Belgrade Center for Contemporary Art and from the very outset became a space for critical query of the political constellations of art, film and social theory in a contemporary post-Yugoslav context. In the summer of 2004, the editorial board founded an independent organisation, Prelom Kolektiv, setting itself up as a publisher and laying the foundations for expanding activities – exhibitions, conferences, discussions, activist actions – beyond producing the Prelom journal.
Book Launch: Continuing Dialogues.A Tribute To Igor Zabel
Before the award ceremony the book “Continuing Dialogues. A Tribute To Igor Zabel” published by JRP Ringier was presented. The aim of the book that accompanies the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory is to continue the theories and approach pursued by Igor Zabel in his exhibitions, publications, critical writings and European exchange initiatives. An introductory round table session focuses on the historical and local setting which formed the background for his campaigns for an art-historical as well as theoretical grounding of Slovene art and for the internationalization of the scene. Participants are Zdenka Badovinac, Vadim Fishkin, Dusan Mandić, Bojana Piškur, Igor Španjol and Herwig G. Höller.
Further contributions by Zdenka Badovinac, Francesco Bonami, Eda Čufer, Ješa Denegri, Charles Esche, Viktor Misiano, Kathrin Rhomberg and Maria Hlavajova, colleagues and co-curators of Zabel’s, shed light on the various cultural areas of his activity as a critical thinker and writer. A closing chapter contains contributions by Zoran Erić, Suzana Milevska, Renata Salecl and Georg Schöllhammer, who attempt to demonstrate the continuing relevance of Igor Zabel’s (art)-political reflections by taking stock of the current cultural and political forms of dialogue in Europe. Contributing artists are AA Bronson, Art & Language, Jože Barši, Johanna Billing, Josef Dabernig, IRWIN, Valery Koshlyakov, Luisa Lambri, Yuri Leiderman, Deimantas Narkevičius, Roman Ondák, Tadej Pogačar, Marko Pogačnik, Marjetica Potrč, Florian Pumhösl and Mladen Stilinović.
A Tribute To Igor Zabel
Edited by Christa Benzer, Christine Böhler, Christiane Erharter
Published with ERSTE Foundation and the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory
JRP Ringier, 2008
Soft cover, 180 x 230 mm, 213 pages
Igor Zabel (1958 – 2005) was a Slovenian curator, writer and cultural theorist who, during his entire life, was actively involved in many fields of theory and culture – as a philosopher, author, essayist, modern and contemporary art curator, literary and art critic, translator, and model for new generations of curators and critics of contemporary art. As a curator and writer, he tirelessly called for the profound exploration of those political, social and cultural undercurrents that had the potential to give us a better understanding of the post-communist world of today. From 1984 to 1986 he worked as a free-lance writer and in 1986 became curator of Moderna galerija in Ljubljana. From 1998 to 2000 he was coordinator of Manifesta 3 in Ljubljana. In 2003 he curated the show Individual Systems as part of the 50th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennial.
Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory
The Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory was founded in February 2008 by Mateja Kos Zabel, Bojan Zabel and ERSTE Foundation. The primary aim of the association, based in Ljubljana, is to establish an international award for culture and theory dedicated to the memory of Igor Zabel. The association seeks to highlight the importance and ongoing influence of Zabel’s work, to promote knowledge-sharing and networking in contemporary visual arts and culture and to encourage cultural dialogue in the Central and South Eastern European region and beyond.
ERSTE Foundation is active in the Central and South Eastern European region. Together with its partners it creates a hive of activity for social good. Established in 2003, the Foundation began its work two years later by developing the three programmes: Social Affairs, Culture, and Europe. Being the legal successor of the 190 year old “Erste oesterreichische Spar-Casse”, the first Austrian savings bank, ERSTE Foundation is the major shareholder of Erste Group and therefore one of the largest institutions of this kind in Europe. Its two commitments are based on historical roots: ERSTE Foundation safeguards the future of Erste Group as an independent company and reinvests its profits in activities that promote the common good.