Art historian, curator and theorist of visual art and culture Suzana Milevska from Skopje, Macedonia is the recipient of this year’s Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory. Initiated and funded by ERSTE Foundation, the award recognises outstanding cultural activities related to the Central and South Eastern European region. Additionally to the award three working grants were given to the Berlin based slavicist Sabine Hänsgen, art historian Klara Kemp-Welch from London and the European Roma Cultural Foundation based in Budapest. The award ceremony was held in Warsaw at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art on 16 November accompanied by a conference and presentation of the book Igor Zabel “Contemporary Art Theory”.
The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory supports the work of art historians and theorists in Central and South Eastern Europe and highlights the notion of arts and culture, encouraging the production of cultural knowledge and exchange between ‘East’ and ‘West’. The laureate is selected by an international jury appointed by ERSTE Foundation. In 2012 the jury consists of the following members: Alenka Gregorič, curator (Ljubljana), Yuri Leiderman, artist (Berlin and Moscow) and Hanna Wróblewska, director of the Zachęta National Gallery of Art (Warsaw).
The award ceremony was held in Warsaw on Friday, 16 November 2012, accompanied by a conference and presentation of the book Igor Zabel “Contemporary Art Theory” at the Zachęta National Gallery of Art.
In 2012, in addition to the award of EUR 40.000 three working grants were awarded, two by the jury, one by the laureate.
Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory – Winner 2012 (EUR 40.000)
Suzana Milevska is an art historian, curator and theorist of visual art and culture. She is honoured with the Igor Zabel Award for her interdisciplinary approach to both theoretical and curatorial practices. Her work focuses on topics such as arts in post-socialist and transitional societies, collaborative and participatory art practices, gender differences and feminist art, and the construction of visual memory in photographic archives, to name just a few areas. One of her most notable recent curatorial projects was The Renaming Machine (2008-2010), which focused on the politics of renaming and overwriting memory in politics, art and visual culture in general. In recent years she has conducted in-depth research projects and prepared exhibitions, talks and symposiums on Roma issues, working mostly with Roma artists. Milevska remains also active in the local art scene as a curator and theorist, where her work plays a vital role for the next generation of artists, theorists and curators. In this respect, the jury views her work as a continuation of the basic premises and principles embodied by the practice of Igor Zabel.
Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory – Grants 2012 (EUR 12.000 each)
One of the grants is awarded to slavicist, culture and media theoretician Sabine Hänsgen (Berlin). The Moscow Conceptualism School is one of her principal areas of interest. Since the beginning of the 1980s she has built up a video archive of Moscow performance art, which has subsequently transformed into a kind of art installation. Literature and visual activities always went hand-in-hand in Moscow’s conceptual circles: translation and publishing are thus other important elements of Sabine Hänsgen’s work. All her projects lead Sabine Hänsgen to more general questions regarding the creative values of archives in the context of both totalitarian and open societies, towards the border where documentation transforms in poetic gesture. Sabine Hänsgen is herself an artist and a member of the famous Moscow performance art group “Collective Actions”.
Klara Kemp-Welch is a young British art critic and art historian. She is currently associated with the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is the author of many critical texts, essays and articles published in journals such as Third Text, Art Monthly and Artmargins. Her principal area of interest is the art of the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as those of Latin America, seen, described and interpreted in a political context. She is now also a director of the research project (of which she is a co-founder) Networking the Bloc: East European Experimental Art and International Relations, exploring the non-official exchanges among East European experimental artists and their global counterparts from the Soviet Block and the former Yugoslavia in the late socialist period. When awarding her this grant, the jury particularly praised both the theme and the approach to the theme from the perspective of a researcher-outsider (from outside the region) as one that goes beyond the East-West divisions and schemas of thinking that still dominate research, as well as the broad (supra-regional) research field which the project demarcates.
European Roma Cultural Foundation
One working grant is traditionally dedicated by the laureate. Suzana Milevska awarded the European Roma Cultural Foundation with this working grant.
“I want to give the grant to the European Roma Cultural Foundation (ERCF), an independent non-profit foundation that was established in 2010, in Budapest, Hungary, with the principal goal of strengthening and widely promoting the role of the arts and culture of Roma people in an enlarged Europe and elsewhere. The team behind this organisation (its Advisory and Curatorial Board) consists of several Roma and not-Roma theorists and curators who have dedicated their careers to revising the received knowledge about the traditional and contemporary art and culture of Roma by pinning down issues debated through post-colonial theory and critique such as essentialisation of Roma identity, cultural differences, hybridisation and subjectivity. The research of the ERCF and their curatorial and activist projects are engaged in a continual fight against negative stereotypes and hostile attitudes towards Roma communities by dealing with the most delicate and urgent issues, such as the Roma Holocaust, anti-Roma sentiment and racism. I strongly believe that Roma communities and all of us will benefit from their profound and committed approach and from their fight for social justice for Roma communities in the extremely hostile nationalist-oriented political environment of contemporary Hungary.” (Suzana Milevska)
The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory was granted for the first time in 2008 to the Croatian curatorial collective What, How & for Whom (WHW). Piotr Piotrowski, art historian and former director of the National Museum in Warsaw won the Award in 2010.
Igor Zabel (1958–2005) was an influential Slovenian curator, art critic, writer and theorist, the main propagator of his country’s art scene during the 1990s. As the senior curator of Ljubljana’s Moderna galerija, he established cultural links between Eastern and Western Europe. He was, by all means, a role model for new generations of curators and critics of contemporary art. The laureates of this Award, just like Igor Zabel, have brought together specific fields of knowledge and culture, and pointed to the necessity of their omnipresence in human lives. These are the ideas that the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory cherishes.
For more information visit: www.igorzabel.org