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28 August 2017

Innovation. Reloading.


The award ceremony was held at the Moscow Planetariu


Innovation is the only national award in contemporary art; the title implies looking into the future, being open, being ready to change oneself and the world. Trendy in the Russia of the early 2000s, the word has lost much of its relevance by now. And similarly, the format of a formerly progressive award has become stale; that was shown by the crisis it went through in 2016 when the jury broke up over some differences and the top prize wasn’t awarded. What Innovation needed was a renovation.

In 2017, the award was reloaded. ROSIZO that became in charge of it — and included the State Center for Contemporary Art — made a rebranding, renewed the jury and the expert board, modified the contest conditions, and made amendments to the titles and the number of nominations.

As a traditional partner of the award, the U-ART foundation didn’t stand aside from those changes, taking an active part in the discussions on the new format. The Innovations 2017 team headed by Ekaterina Kibovskaya introduced a few novelties, and the most important of them included the creation of Project of the Year and Educative.

Project — the nominations serving to expand the award as far as contemporary art is concerned. Indeed, the educative element is becoming a must today for almost any cultural undertaking, and it doesn’t seem possible to define precisely what can become the highlight of the year in contemporary art (i. e. ‘the project of the year’). It can be an exposition, a festival, a theatrical performance… To prove the abovementioned, the award in this nomination was given to the Theater of Nations’ New Space (curated by Vera Martynova), an interdisciplinary project combining music, theater and contemporary art.

Innovation guests in the Large Star Hall

Andrey Kuzkin became the winner in Book of the Year: Theory and History of Contemporary Art

The introduction of the new nominations all but entailed a complete abolishment of an old one titled Theory, Practice, Art Studies. The thing is, the state-assigned budget was not supposed to grow and the nomination itself seemed somewhat stale to the organizers. “Do people read art books in the era of digital media and multimedia technologies?” — such question was raised when the nominations were being discussed. “We think they do”, answered the U-ART foundation, “so it’s important to read, write, publish and award.” Thus the new Innovation received one more nomination created, organized and supported by the foundation. According to Iveta Manasherova, the idea was “to support the tradition of giving the Theory, Practice, Art Studies award, unofficially known as the ‘Book Award’. We believe that although research works on contemporary art may not be so noticeable as flashy visual projects, they are still essential and need support and promotion.”

Books demand a special attitude and attentive reading. All submitted applications were passed on to U-ART’s expert board created specifically to give the award in that nomination. The members included: Dmitri Mordvintsev, designer and publisher; Marina Elzesser, State Tretyakov Gallery’s Deputy General Director for Educational Activity and Publishing; Vitali Patsiukov, art historian, curator,  Head of Interdisciplinary Programs at the National Centre for Contemporary Arts; Danila Bulatov, curator, researcher at the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts; Sergey Khachaturov, a Russian art critic, theorist, curator; Iveta Manasherova, art historian, curator, establisher of the U-ART Foundation for Charity and Culture.

Olga Muromtseva, Andrey Kuzkin and Ekaterina Kibovskaya with U-Art’s special prize

Five authors became the nominees and interestingly enough, three of the works were editions of Moscow Museum of Modern Art. The museum keeps justifying its name and remains one of the leading institutions that study modern Russian art.

It was quite a dilemma to choose the winner as the nomination traditionally included editions varying in genres and formats: theoretical research works, albums, memoirs… The word ‘book’ in the nomination title played a key role.

The experts unanimously agreed that the book is a unity of design and contents, a synthesis of textual and illustrational material. And certainly, ‘the book of the year’ should be innovative as the spirit of the award suggests… Basing on those criteria, the board chose the winners: the illustrator Andrey Kuzkin and his co-author curator Natalya Tamruchi. 

Kirill Gluschenko, the author of the project Wonderful Is the Image of Our Weekdays won in the New Generation nomination. Leonid Tishkov became the Artist of the Year while the Curator of the Year was given to Alexander Burenkov for his Planned Aging exposition. There were two more prizes awarded in non-competitive nominations: the artist Viktor Pivovarov received the Contributor to Contemporary Russian Art award while the Supporter of Contemporary Russian Art was given to Sofya and Roman Trotsenko, founders of the WINZAVOD Centre for Contemporary Art.

This year the ceremony was held at the Moscow Planetarium. It was opened with a multimedia show inspired by a star map and Viktor Pivovarov’s works. Shining constellations lit the dome hall and the guests heard Joseph Brodsky’s poem ‘As for the starts, they are always on…’ The ceremony was laconic and spectacular.

Text: Olga Muromtseva
Photo: Dmitry Chuntul

Mikhail Karasik. Constructivism and the Other.
MMoMA. Moscow, 2016.

Andrey Kuzkin. Right to Live.
MMoMA. Moscow, 2016.

Mikhail Yampolsky. Prigov: Artistic Nominalism Essays. Moscow: New Literary Review, 2016.

Piranesi. Before and After. Italy — Russia. 18th-21st Centuries. SMoFI. Moscow, 2016.

Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe in Memoirs of His Contemporaries. Collaboration of MMoMA, Vladislav Mamyshev-Monroe Foundation, and Artguide Editions. Moscow, 2016.

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