Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory 2018
2018 award edition brings an important novelty: 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 2018 jury has awarded art historian and curator Joanna Mytkowska (Poland) the Igor Zabel Award 2018 for her committed and outstanding work as the director of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. In addition to the award in the amount of EUR 40,000, three grants, each of EUR 12,000 are being given. Grants according to the jury's selection are given to Edith Jeřábková (Czech Republic) and Oberliht Association (Moldova); the laureate, Joanna Mytkowska granted The Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC, Ukraine).
Adam Budak, chief curator, National Gallery, Prague • Ana Janevski, curator, MoMA, New York • Erzen Shkololli, director, National Art Gallery of Albania, Tirana
Anna Daučíková, Branislav Dimitrijević, Maja and Reuben Fowkes, Christian Höller, Lívia Páldi, Dan Perjovschi, Magdalena Radomska, Barbara Steiner, Adam Szymczyk, Maria Vassileva
The award ceremony took place at Moderna galerija in Ljubljana on 7 December 2018, accompanied by a conferenceArt – How Much is it Still an Idea for the Future?. Upon the tenth anniversary of the Igor Zabel Award, an award programme also included the premiere of a documentary film about Igor Zabel.
Reportage of the event
Joanna Mytkowska, art historian, curator and, since 2007, the director of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. The jury acknowledges the extraordinary intellectual, curatorial and civic achievements that Joanna Mytkowska has developed over the last 15 years, especially as the director of MoMA in Warsaw. Notable are her exceptional commitment to reaffirming the relation of art to society in times of radical socio-political transformations in Poland and beyond as well as her outstanding expertise on art from Central and Eastern Europe.
Read the jury's statement.
In the 1990s, Mytkowska started her professional career as a curator at the Foksal Gallery in Warsaw, a legendary, non-commercial art space set up by artists in 1966. After that, she co-founded and worked at the Foksal Gallery Foundation in Warsaw with the aim of establishing research and funding opportunities for Polish contemporary art as well as taking care of the legacy of Polish avant-garde artists. From 2006 to 2007, she worked at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, but soon after embarking on her international curatorial career outside of Poland, she decided to return to Warsaw and took over directorship of the MoMA.
Interview with Joanna Mytkowska
Grant recipients 2018
Grant recipient according to the jury's selection:
→ Edith Jeřábková, curator, researcher, teacher and art writer from Prague, for her outstanding contribution to the artistic life in the Czech Republic (and beyond) with her polyphonic practice as an innovative cultural producer, prolific curator and writer as well as a passionate teacher and researcher. The jury also acknowledges Edith Jeřábková’s resilience regarding emancipating non-institutional forms of cultural production and searching for new articulations of curatorial practice and theory.
Grant recipient according to the jury's selection:
→ Oberliht Association from Chisinau, Moldova, in recognition of its ongoing support to the local artistic community and its innovative engagement with projects in the public space. The association’s collective and self-organisation structure, its social, innovative and direct engagement with the local public space and public issues, make Oberliht the right candidate for the Igor Zabel Award Grant.
Grant recipient according to the laureate's selection:
→ The Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC) from Kyiv, as a unique research-based organisation that has emerged from the academic and artistic circles and, through the analysis of visual culture, aims to foster reflection on the post-Soviet political and economic situation. VCRC has therefore established a unique background for acting, critical thinking and creativity in the highly difficult context of Ukraine in the state of war today.
Interview with Vasyl Cherepanyn
photo: Nada Žgank
after the award
In 2020, we asked previous recipients to reflect on the impact of the award.
“The Igor Zabel Award is a great distinction and honor, especially because I received it after a long line of outstanding people whom I have admired for many years. The award was especially important to me because I work in conditions of tension, crisis, and uncertainty. The award provided important support for me during this difficult journey and also provided external confirmation of the rightness of my actions. The Igor Zabel Award, because of its prestige, also enhanced the importance of the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw of which I am a director, and subsequently the effectiveness of its activities in Polish society.”
“The Igor Zabel Award Grant does not impose conditions and does not burden the recipients with other obligations. This openness allowed me to support the interdisciplinary project WOODS. Community for Cultivation, Theory and Art, to which I could then afford to give my time and energy. It also helped me to establish a permanent residence in the forest by purchasing the basic necessities such as a solar power system, internet connection, tools, materials, and plants and supplies for animals. I am a founding member of the Are Association, which recently purchased three hectares of forest and meadows in Ústí nad Orlicí, the Orlické Mountain region in the Czech Republic. We are establishing an edible forest and permaculture garden, and will use various formats for sharing this combined artistic, academic, permaculture, and educational work, and connecting the city with the countryside. We organize permaculture courses, summer art-educational symposia, rescue events for animals, and the planting of trees and shrubs. Thanks to the Igor Zabel Award Grant, I was able to move to the forest where I take care of the soil and animals that are in need, grow vegetables, plant trees, and also devote myself to my curatorial, institutional, and academic work, which is no longer tied only to the city.”
The Visual Culture Research Center (VCRC)
”VCRC was honoured to be one of the 2018 Igor Zabel Award Grant recipients. We would like to emphasize three dimensions of its impact on us: conceptual, institutional, and political. Because the VCRC is an interdisciplinary organization that perceives its cultural practice as theory in action, it is especially important that the grant is given not just for achievements in culture but also in theory. In the Ukrainian context where short-term structural institutional support is urgently required and almost always absent, the Igor Zabel Award Grant is a highly influential act of solidarity and international support. VCRC, as an organizer of the Kyiv Biennial, the aim of which is to propose an alternative narrative for the East European region, especially appreciates that it has become a part of the Igor Zabel Award's endeavour to look at Europe's eastern and southern (semi-) peripheries as a uniting whole.”