igor zabel award for culture and theory 2016

Viktor Misiano, now living in Moscow and Cisternino (Italy), is honoured with the Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory 2016 for his curatorial achievements, writings and editorial work related to contemporary art in Russia and in the broader international sphere.
In addition to the award in the amount of EUR 40,000, three grants, each of EUR 12,000 are being given. The jury granted Romanian curator and art historian Anca Verona Mihuleţ and the OFF-Biennale Budapest 2015; the laureate, Viktor Misiano, gave the third grant to curator Viviana Checchia from Italy.

Jury 2016:
Zdenka Badovinac, director of Moderna galerija, Ljubljana
Vít Havránek, director of tranzit.cz, Prague
Roman Ondák, artist, Bratislava

The award programme took place in Ljubljana at the Moderna galerija on 8 & 9 December 2016, accompanied by a conference What Art History? In memoriam Piotr Piotrowski and presentation of the Extending the Dialogue book with texts by former winners and jury members.

Laureate 2016

Viktor Misiano began his professional career as a curator of contemporary art at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow (1980-1990) and later became the director of the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) in Moscow (1992-1997). Between 2001 and 2006, he was deputy director of the State Museum Exhibition Centre “ROSIZO”.

From 2010 to 2014, he has been chairman of the Supervisory Board of Manifesta Foundation and was on the curatorial team for Manifesta 1, Rotterdam (1996). In most of his curatorial projects he has represented Russian artists: in the Russian section of the 3rd Istanbul Biennial (1992), the 46th and 50th Venice Biennial (1995, 2003), the 1st Valencia Biennial in Spain (2001), the 25th and 26th São Paulo Biennial (2002, 2004). He strongly increased the visibility of Central Asian artists with the Central Asia Pavilion at the 51st Venice Biennial (2005), and at the Live Cinema/The Return of the Image: Video from Central Asia, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2007-2008).

A majority of his curatorial work is dedicated to the Post-Soviet space, which he observed as interaction between past and present and characterised with the ideas of progressive nostalgia. It is the editorial work that represents an important segment in Misiano’s work. In 1993 he founded the Moscow Art Magazine and has been its editor-in-chief ever since. Together with Igor Zabel, he founded (2003) and edited the first six issues of MJ – Manifesta Journal: Journal of Contemporary Curatorship and served as its editor-in-chief until 2011. In collaboration with Igor Zabel and Zdenka Badovinac, he curated the 7 Sins: Ljubljana – Moscow exhibition at the Moderna galerija in Ljubljana in 2004.

His friendship with Zabel and many other colleagues from Eastern Europe can be defined by his own term institutionalisation of friendship, which still serves as an alternative to different networks and relations imposed from the outside.

Grant recipients 2016

Anca Verona Mihuleţ lives and works in Sibiu and Bucharest, Romania. Between 2006 and 2013, together with Liviana Dan, she curated the exhibition programme of the Contemporary Art Gallery of the Brukenthal National Museum in Sibiu, which focused on artists from Central and Eastern Europe. Since 2013, Mihuleţ has been an independent curator and art historian. She has organised many exhibitions in Romania and abroad. Among her most important projects are: Reflection Centre for Suspended Histories: An Attempt (55th Venice Biennial, 2013); Impossibility vs. Self-Censorship (Matadero, Madrid, 2013); South by Southeast, co-curated with Patrick D. Flores, which presented artists from South-Eastern Europe and South East Asia. Her recent project A Matter of Contemplation and Discontent will present Romanian art of the 1990s at the Jorge B. Vargas Museum and the Filipiniana Research Center in Manila, Philippines. Together with Diana Marincu, she is co-curating The White Dot and the Black Cube, a six-chapter project that continues her research on the relations between two south-eastern positions, one in Europe and one in Asia, planned for The National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest.

The OFF-Biennale Budapest took place between 24 April and 31 May 2015 and attracted around 35,000 visitors. More than 200 programmes took place in 136 venues in Budapest, throughout Hungary and abroad. It brought together around 40 various organisations and extended the idea of cultural action as an answer to the shift in national cultural policy. OFF-Biennale Budapest is a collective initiative. The OFF Platform has successfully engaged in an exceptionally large collaboration that is unprecedented in Hungary. In parallel to their networking activities and long-term dynamics, the group of curators – Nikolett Erőss, Anna Juhász, Hajnalka Somogyi, Tijana Stepanović, Borbála Szalai, Katalin Székely and János Szoboszlai – successfully organised a large international event, the OFF-Biennale 2015. It currently continues to construct its activities around a second edition of this self-initiated public event, as well as around a transversal platform that connects various cultural organisations. http://offbiennale.hu/en

Third working grant is traditionally dedicated by the laureate. Viktor Misiano awarded Viviana Checchia

As a Public Engagement Curator at CCA Glasgow, Viviana Checchia does not locate her curatorial practice exclusively within the consolidated art system. Originally from Puglia (Italy), Viviana Checchia organised a platform for communication, dialogue, research and development named Vessel  in Bari (Italy), involving many Eastern European artists and theorists. The innovative quality of the Vessel platform is a reflection of Viviana's general approach: Her various activities are all connected with her enthusiasm for unusual solutions and non-mainstream doxas. For her, collaborative interdisciplinary practice is an object of theoretical research and a basis of her own curatorial methodology. After having worked in the European South, she realised that certain approaches established in the European North are not at all applicable and valid here. According to her, coherent aesthetical and methodological models promoted by the global North should not be perceived as canons; on the contrary, coherent aesthetical and methodological models produced by the South could and should be seen as potentially productive. That is why Viviana focused her theoretical gaze and practical efforts on three areas that are far from being central: Southern Europe, Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean.

Photo: Nada Žgank
Photo: Nada Žgank

after the award

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

The OFF-Biennale Budapest

“The 2016 Igor Zabel Award Grant, given by an acclaimed international jury, was the first international acknowledgement of our work. It not only gave us a strong motivation to continue our joint activities directed toward the organization of a second edition, it also provided us with seed money to spend on developing a team for the new edition. Furthermore, the grant, along with the publicity around it, drew positive attention to OFF-Biennale Budapest that we were able to build on. This early gesture of trust proved to be tremendously helpful to our work.”