The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory 2008

The Croatian curatorial collective “What, How & for Whom”, also known as WHW, from Zagreb is the first recipient of the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory 2008 in the amount of EUR 40,000. In addition to the award, three grants, each of EUR 12,000 were given. Grants according to the jury's selection were given to the German editor, writer and linguist Fouad Asfour and the Turkish writer Erden Kosova. The laureate, WHW collective granted the Serbian collective Prelom.

Jury 2008:
Eda Čufer
, publicist, curator and dramaturge (Slovenia/USA)
Josef Dabernig, artist (Austria)
Charles Esche, curator and director of the Van-Abbe-Museum (The Netherlands)

The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory was granted for the first time in 2008 in Ljubljana, home town of Igor Zabel. The award ceremony was held at Cankarjev Dom on 21 November 2008. The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory was also the occasion for the launch of the publication Continuing Dialogues – A Tribute to Igor Zabel.

Laureate 2008

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 152nd anniversary of the Communist Manifesto; Broadcasting, a project, dedicated to Nikola Tesla, and START, dedicated to young artists from the region. WHW curated the 11th Istanbul Biennial (2009). The award has been given to WHW because of their unique working practice as a curatorial collective that has been 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.

Grant recipients 2008

Fouad Asfour is a linguist living and working in Vienna (Austria) and Johannesburg (South Africa) as a freelance writer, editor, programme coordinator and linguistic advisor. Asfour’s specific experience has been gained through his engagements in art fields and arenas of cultural theories. The jury recognizes his specific dialectical method, which goes closer to the subject of the artist in synergy with critical political disposition, as honourable in the memory of Igor Zabel.

Erden Kosova is a writer, publishing and editing in two Istanbul-based contemporary art magazines, art-ist and Resmi Gorus, and a member of a post-anarchist collective which runs the magazine project Siyahi. Kosova is also a PhD candidate in the Theory of Visual Culture department at Goldsmiths College in London. He was awarded as a promising writer, who we anticipate will contribute much to defining the region in a way that does justice to Igor Zabel’s own understanding of this geography.

Third working grant is traditionally dedicated by the laureate.
WHW awarded Prelom Kolektiv, 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 between art, film and social theory in the contemporary post-Yugoslav context. In the summer of 2004, the editorial board founded an independent organisation – Prelom Kolektiv – constituting itself as a publisher and laying the foundations for expanding activities – exhibitions, conferences, discussions, activist actions – beyond producing the Prelom journal.

Photo: Nada Žgank
Photo: Nada Žgank

In 2020, we asked previous recipients to reflect on the impact of the award.

Fouad Asfour

“On a perfectly ordinary Monday morning, I had just stepped into one of Johannesburg’s sudden thunderstorms. I was figuring out which path to run across campus that would get me the least soaking wet when I got a phone call from Ljubljana telling me that I had received the Igor Zabel Award Grant. No longer out in the cold, I was suddenly able to run art writing workshops in Johannesburg and Polokwane, to organize discussion events, to publish the Manifesto special issue of the Dead Revolutionaries Club E-Zine, to co-curate the exhibition Esikhaleni – Spatial Practices in the context of the first Johannesburg Art Fair, to write my own texts and guest edit the texts of South African artists and writers, to coordinate the first meeting of the Network of Independent Publishers at the first Jozi Book Fair, Johannesburg, to continue collaborative work with artists and researchers (Ricarda Denzer and Fadi Shayya among others) on their publications, and to continue my research on South African art writing which was published in the book chapter “Whitespeak: How Race Works in South African Art Criticism Texts to Maintain the Arts as the Property of Whiteness” (coauthored with Dr. Sharlene Khan) in The Palgrave Handbook of Race and the Arts in Education (2018).”