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Future Generation Art Prize

22 January 2013

The PinchukArtCenter in Kiev awarded its second Future Genera­tion Prize in early December. Des­pite the cold, there were quite a few visitors, most of them very young. This art center was founded in 2006 by the magnate and former parlia­mentarian Viktor Pinchuk, who consulted with Nicolas Bourriaud at the time. The vegetarian cafe-restaurant designed by France's Philippe Chiambaretta is a local hipster favorite.

This show was marked by a sharp contrast between the different exhibition spaces. On the one hand there were artists favored by the market and collectors, such as An­dreas Gursky, Jeff Koons, Olafur Eliasson and Damien Hirst (also spotlighted on the ground floor by a solo show of his latest paintings of parrots—Hirst was the "mentor artist" for this year's prize). Then there was the exhibition of work by 21 young artists curated by Björn Geldhof. Each of them made a new piece for this show, and their work will appear in an opulent palazzo at the next Venice Biennale, a clever way to boost the reputations of both the artists and the prize.

The selection was made by a wide "network," to use the buzzword of this event. The jury (whose mem­bers included Massimiliano Gioni, Hans-Ulrich Obrist, the center's di­rector Eckhard Schneider and Ca­rolyn Christov-Bakargiev) first chose a selection committee, which in turn drew up a shortlist with the help of more than 500 cor­respondents around the world. The prize award ceremony took place in a 1970s planetarium, apparently a favorite date spot for Kiev youth. It was like an American awards show Tim Marlow (one of the White Cube's directors) served as MC. Pinchuk spared no expense for the gala's atmospherics. He doesn't stint when it comes to supporting the artists, either, and his commit­ment seems lasting. For instance, a training program for curators has just been launched.

Every other year another prize is awarded for Ukrainian artists. The Pinchuk Foundation seems to have played a big role in energizing that scene. The winner of that prize au­tomatically makes the shortlist for the Future Generation Prize. Last year's pick was Mykyta Kadan. In this exhibition he presented a mo­nument to Soviet workers—a vi­sion of ruins and lost hope. The modernist front is immaculate, while the back is made of a rusty metal truck dating to 1973, typical of the temporary housing located around the factories in those days. Kadan, who is careful in his hand­ling of the notion of Utopia, is also a member of the REP collective, founded in 2004 during the Orange Revolution. The REP work, on view here analyzed what has been built on the ruins of the USSR. Pieces of wallpaper decorated with Greek columns and artificial stones seem to have been taken from an archeological excavation/of kitsch home interiors back in the 1990s, during the period of "Euro-integra­tion." This is not about nostalgia; rather, it's a very realistic attempt to look back on history.

The British artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye (also seen at last year's Lyon Biennale) won the Main Prize. Her political paintings represent black men surrounded by rays of light. Each is done from memory, and in a single day. A narrative thread emerged only after seeing the whole ensemble. It's tempting to compare these paintings with Hirst's, if only to underline the dif­ferences. Five special prizes were awarded. One went to the Italian artist Micol Assael. When visitors entered her installation, they were overwhelmed by the humming of bees as they watched a video of a desolate, frightening landscape. This was a skilful renewal of a prac­tice she has often pursued, the ob­servation of scientific experiments (for example, in the2009 exhibition Gakona at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris). On the floor in the next room, by Rayyane Tabet, another special prizewinner, was a three-di­mensional landscape made of pieces from a mass-produced mo­dernist wood-block building set, the only childhood souvenir Tabet kept with him as his family moved from home to home during the Le­banese civil war. Modernism also marked the installation by Johna-thas de Andrade, a deconstruction of two texts on Brazilian architec­ture. Marwa Arsanios, an Ameri­can who lives in Beirut, used 1960s material from the archives of the magazine Al-Hilal to produce an imaginary analysis of the role of women in the Middle East. The re­touched photos and reading of the texts blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality. A video by Ahmet Ogüt, from Turkey, ex­plores, among other things, the question of money and especially the way to break its chains.

While some of the work in this show was much weaker, there were other artists whose work was as good as the prizewinners. For example, Aurelien Froment, from France, presented three videos that resonate and shed light on each other. They are accompanied by voiceovers, commentaries that "exhaust" the images. Also wor­thy of an award was the light ins­tallation by Meris Angioletti, whose work was seen at the Gale-rie de Noisy-le-Sec in 2011. It is a poetic meditation on cinema by means of the projection of colored surfaces and texts by Tarkovsky. Joao Maria Gusmao and Pedro Paiva, who presented work at Le Plateau last year, provided three films and an installation on the subject of the fabrication of images. Perhaps this Portuguese duo weren't given an award be­cause they are already well known. Planning is underway for a new building for the art center. The name of the architect has not yet been revealed—but Pinchuk has a penchant for Japanese culture.

Translation: L-S Torgoff

Author: Anael Pigeat
Source: Artpress, №397