Russia’s Innovation prize announces winners

10 April 2014
Text Aleksandr Malakhovskii

Conceptual artist Yuri Albert and curator Ekaterina Degot have won the main Innovation award, Russia’s equivalent of the UK’s Turner Prize, for their exhibition, What Did the Artist Mean by That?, a retrospective of Albert’s work.

Albert, one of Russia’s most celebrated artists, is known for his preoccupation with the nature of art, in particular conceptual art, and its public perception. In the past, he has created paintings in Braille, museum tours for blindfolded visitors, and monochrome works of art smeared with his own blood, faeces and ashes of burnt books from his collection.

Ekaterina Kochetkova, the executive director of the competition, told The Calvert Journal: “We chose Albert and Degot as the winners because the entire exhibition was a work of art. There haven’t been exhibitions like that before. The name of our competition is innovation and so we chose the most innovative project.”

In the other categories, Elena Selina was awarded a prize for best curatorial project for her exhibition, Reconstruction, a window into the Moscow art scene from 1990 to 2000. The exhibition explores the significance of this post-Soviet decade that gave rise to movements such as Moscow actionism led by key figures such as Oleg Kulik and Anatol Osmolovsky. Other winners include artist Sasha Pirogova in the new generation category for his video project Biblimlen, a behind-the-scenes looks at Moscow’s Russian State Library, and art critic Dmitry Bulatov in the best art theory and criticism category for Evolution Haute Couture: Art and Science in the Post-Biological Age, a book about modern technologies.

This year’s award for the best regional contemporary art project went to Krasnodar-based ZIP Group and the Krasnodar Institute of Contemporary Art, an independent private institution created and run by artists. Kochetkova said that the jury looked for a submission that not was not only good artwork but that also raised the profile of contemporary art in the local area.

An out-of-competition prize was awarded to Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe, the legendary St Petersburg performance artist who was found dead in a swimming pool in Bali in 2013, for his contribution to contemporary art in Russia. A second went to Shalva Breus, the founder of the Kandinsky Prize for art, and his cultural foundation, ArtChronika, for their ongoing support of Russian contemporary art.

The winners of the ninth annual Innovation prize were announced at an awards ceremony in the Museum of Moscow on 9 April. The prize was launched in 2005 to support Russian contemporary artists, curators and writers, sharing a total of 2.4 million roubles among the winners. An exhibtion of the nominees runs until 4 May at the National Centre for Contemporary Arts in Moscow.