Art & Development

The International Award for Participatory Art

Forgive my stroppiness of late. It’s not all doom and gloom in the world of art competitions. There is some good news, such as the announcement of a new prize with exciting criteria.

Pablo Helguera has won the first edition of the International Award for Participatory Art. The Award, a biennial project promoted by the Legislative Assembly of the Region Emilia-Romagna, is dedicated to artists with an outstanding experience in participatory art projects. The three finalists of the award, chosen from a list of 18 artists nominated by curators, critics and artists from all over the world, had to develop a project idea to be realised in the city of Bologna, Italy in 2011. Helguera’s project was chosen from a short list of three proposals submitted by the winner and the other two finalists Mel Chin and Jeanne van Heeswijk. The award consists in the prize of 15,000 EUR and a budget of 30,000 EUR to create the project. 

Pablo Helguera (Mexico City, 1971) is a New York based artist whose work focuses on history, pedagogy, sociolinguistics and anthropology in formats such as lectures, museum displays, performance and written fiction. His project The School of Panamerican Unrest, a nomadic think-tank, physically crossed the continent by car from Anchorage to Tierra del Fuego. He has exhibited widely and has been recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship and the Creative Capital grant. He is the author of several books including The Pablo Helguera Manual of Contemporary Art Style, Theatrum Anatomicum (and other performance lectures), and What in the World.

Helguera’s project for Bologna, called Ælia Media, consists in creating a nomadic cultural journalism institute and broadcast center, as an alternative arts multimedia channel. The project will function in two capacities: one, as a training ground for currently active and aspiring cultural producers, and second, as a temporary broadcast program in a variety of media (video, radio, print and web) with a primary emphasis on user-generated content (consumer-generated media) using live participation methods as well as online social networks.

The project will derive its strategies from processes of learning, self-organization, and media production that have local roots but with a contemporary emphasis and outlook. The “Ælia Media Corporation” will try to be a cabinet of curiosities of cultural journalism, searching for the extraordinary in the ordinary, rediscovering the wealth of cultural production in Bologna, and juxtaposing opinions on specific issues, tying them with larger issues internationally.

“The idea of the kiosk”, explains Helguera “is firstly to provide visibility of the project in the city and secondly to create a location in the form of a ‘third place’. Occasionally the kiosk will “travel” to other parts of the city to reach other communities and to draw attention to particular issues in the city”.

The award was announced by an international jury comprising Julia Draganovic, award curator, Rudolf Frieling, curator at the Media Arts Department at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Alfredo Jaar, one of the most influential artists on the international contemporary art scene, Bert Theis, artist, curator and co-founder of out-Office for Urban Transformation and Isola Art Center, Milan and Luigi Benedetti, Director General of the Legislative Assembly of the Region of Emilia-Romagna. The jury announced the winner at Arte Fiera – Bologna Art Fair and gave a preview of the winner’s participatory project, the first of its kind, to be created at Bologna in the course of 2011.

The International Award for Participatory Art is launched by the Legislative Assembly of the Emilia-Romagna Regional Government in collaboration with
LaRete Art Projects and goodwill.

The Award is curated by Julia Draganovic assisted by co-curator Claudia Löffelholz.
For further information and to be constantly updated about the project see: www.artepartecipativa.it

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