The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory

The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory acknowledges the exceptional achievements of cultural protagonists whose work supports, develops or investigates visual art and culture in Central, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. Candidates for the award are international curators, art historians and theorists, writers or critics who live/work in this region and whose work is related to Central, Eastern, and South-Eastern Europe.

Named in honour of the distinguished Slovenian curator and art historian Igor Zabel (1958–2005), the award, an initiative of the ERSTE Foundation (Vienna), has been conferred biennially since 2008 in cooperation with ERSTE Foundation (Vienna) and the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory (Ljubljana).

The award is not by application. Since 2018 award edition a three-member international jury selects the laureate and recipients of two grants based on the proposals given by 10 nominators; third grant is still named by the laureate. The laureate receives EUR 40,000; three working grants are endowed with EUR 12,000 each. A jury and nominators are appointed by ERSTE Foundation and the Igor Zabel Association.

The first award was granted in 2008 in Ljubljana, the city of Igor Zabel. It was awarded to the Croatian curatorial collective What, How & for Whom (WHW). Art historian Piotr Piotrowski (1952–2015) won the prize in 2010, and the Macedonian art historian and curator Suzana Milevska was awarded the prize in 2012. In 2014, it was the Russian curator and art writer Ekaterina Degot who received the award, and in 2016 the Russian curator and art writer Viktor Misiano. Polish art historian and curator Joanna Mytkowska received the award in 2018.

From 2018 on the award ceremony is rooted in Ljubljana, Igor Zabel’s home city.