The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory 2020





The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory acknowledges exceptional achievements of curators, art historians, theorists, art writers, and critics whose work supports, develops or investigates visual art and culture in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Named in honour of the distinguished Slovenian curator and art historian Igor Zabel (1958–2005), the award has been conferred biennially since 2008. It represents one of the most generous and prestigious awards for cultural activities related to Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.

Zdenka Badovinac, curator, art writer, and director of Ljubljana’s Moderna galerija is named this year’s Igor Zabel Award laureate.

On 4 December 2020, at the biannual ceremony in Ljubljana, Zdenka Badovinac will be awarded for her outstanding institutional leadership as the director of the Moderna galerija/Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (+MSUM) in Ljubljana as well as for her radical curatorial work and significant contributions as a writer and editor to international discourses on the geopolitics of contemporary art in Eastern Europe and global art history. Igor Zabel Award Grants will be given to Slavcho Dimitrov, Katalin Erdődi, and Ivana Bago.

The Igor Zabel Award 2020 jury recognizes Zdenka Badovinac asone of the most important and rigorous locally rooted and globally connected professionals in the field of cultural production in recent decades. Badovinac became the director of Moderna galerija in Ljubljana in 1993. According to the jury, since she was appointed to this post, and through her curatorial innovations, Zdenka Badovinac has made Ljubljana’s Moderna galerija into one of the most progressive, critical, and referential art institutions worldwide.

Zdenka Badovicnac. Photo: Igor Andjelić
Zdenka Badovicnac. Photo: Igor Andjelić

The jury also emphasizes Badovinac’s important contribution to new paradigms in art theory, the politics of art, curatorship, practices of exhibiting, institutional critique, and strategies of solidarity within the (institutional) contemporary art field. Her remarkable achievements prove that the tremendous subversive potential for radical change lies not only in professional expertise, but also in combining this expertise with personal devotion, a sense of solidarity, and a commitment to building alliances.

The jury also awards two grants, one grant recipient is selected by the award laureate. A three-member international jury selects the laureate and recipients of two grants based on proposals given by ten nominators. The third grant is selected by the laureate.

Igor Zabel Award Grant recipients 2020:

Slavcho Dimitrov (Skopje), activist, cultural theorist, and curator, in recognition of his contributions to reimagining the cultural and social life of the Western Balkan region, and for bringing LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights and struggles to the heart of that vision.

Katalin Erdődi (Vienna/Budapest), curator, dramaturg, and cultural worker, in recognition of her locally embedded and inclusive curatorial practice, distinguished by its scope as well as its critically reflexive and joyful qualities.

The third grant recipient is selected by the laureate. This year Zdenka Badovinac selected Ivana Bago (Zagreb), curator, art historian, and art writer, in recognition of her excellence and insistence on the art historical research, writing, and exhibiting of Yugoslav and Eastern European art.

2020 jury:

Šejla Kamerič, artist, Sarajevo
Antony Gardner, art historian, Oxford
Franciska Zólyom, curator and director of the GfZK – Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig

2020 nominators:

Pawel Althamer, artist, Warsaw
Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez, curator, writer, editor, Paris/Ljubljana
Vjera Borozan, art historian, curator, Prague
Mira Gakjina, curator, director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Skopje
• Herwig Höller, art writer, Moscow/Graz
Eva Khachatryan, curator, Yerevan
József Mélyi, art historian, critic, Budapest
Deimantas Narkevičius, artist, Vilnius
Sven Spieker, editor, ARTMargins
Raluca Voinea, curator, Bucharest

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Florian Bauer

Director Social Finance, Sustainability and Innovation
Since 2023, Florian Bauer has been responsible for social finance, sustainability and social innovation at ERSTE Foundation. Prior to this role, Florian worked in the NGO & Social Entrepreneurship sector for more than 13 years. He led the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership (REEEP), an international multilateral NGO that works to accelerate market-based deployment of renewable energy and energy efficient systems in developing countries, and was Managing Director & COO of the Impact Hub Vienna. From 2020-2023, Florian established strategic alliances with key partners and helped to create innovative semantic technology solutions at Semantic Web Company (SWC), a leading IT company in semantic AI solutions.