January 8, 2015

The International Awards for Art Criticism (IAAC) 1

The Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum
Photography: Wang Zheng. Courtesy of the Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Museum.

There was an overwhelming response to the first International Awards for Art Criticism. 170 English language entries from more than 40 countries and regions, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Ukraine, the Philippines, Turkey, Uganda and Zambia. Most of the submissions came from artists and curators, in addition to professional art critics and from a wide range of lecturers, researchers and art students. 150 Chinese language entries came from a similar cross-section of applicants from Hong Kong, Taiwan and a number of other countries, including the United States and Russia. The greatest number of entries from Mainland China was concentrated in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hangzhou, with others from Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing, Shenzhen and some 15 other cities.

The Board of the International Awards for Art Criticism (IAAC) have announced the names of the three winners of the first (2014) edition of these Awards, as follows:

1st prize winner (Chinese)
Su Wei (Beijing): “Language is Confrontation. Reflections sparked by Yan Lie’s exhibition, Bilder, die (nie) verschwinden (Pictures that never Disappear),” at Tang Contemporary Art (Beijing).

Joint 2nd prize winner (English)
Joobin Bekhrad (Toronto): “Sin City. The Rise, Fall and Resurrection of Nasereddin Shah-e Qajar.” A review of Siamek Filizadeh’s exhibition, Under Ground, at the Aaran Art Gallery (Tehran).

Joint 2nd prize winner (Chinese)
Zhang Han Lu (Shanghai): “The Impulse to Scribble.” A review of Liu Chuang’s exhibition, Love Story, at Salon 94 Freemans (New York).

The Awards were announced at a special ceremony and press conference at the newly opened Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum (M21) on Monday 24 November 2014. Afterwards two of the prize winners and representatives of the IAAC Board and jury took part in a public debate on “The State of Art Criticism Today.”

Some 20 of the entries from the final shortlist, including the three finalists’ essays, will be included in a bilingual Chinese-English publication, due out in spring 2015.


About the International Awards for Art Criticism (IAAC)
The new annual International Awards for Art Criticism (IAAC) are jointly organized by the Shanghai 21st Century Minsheng Art Museum and the Royal College of Art, London, in association with the UK Section of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA). The principal sponsor is the China Minsheng Banking Corporation (CMBC).

The Awards aim to support independent critical coverage of contemporary art, away from the immediate pressures of the market, media, and public or private patronage. They are open to candidates of any age from anywhere in the world, writing about any contemporary art exhibition of the past year, in either Chinese or English.

The first prize, open to candidates writing in Chinese or English, consists of a cash award of 50,000 RMB (6,000 euro) and a fully funded two-week residency in Shanghai or London, in spring 2015. The two joint second prizes—one each for an essay in Chinese or in English—each consist of a fully funded travel bursary for a two-week residency in Shanghai or London, around the same time.

The Awards were judged anonymously by a distinguished panel of professional critics and writers about art, as follows:

J.J. Charlesworth (UK), associate editor, ArtReview
Carol Lu (PRC), critic and artistic director, OCAT, Shenzhen
Karen Smith (PRC), art historian, executive director, OCAT, Xi’an
Richard Vine (USA), managing editor, Art in America
Rachel Withers (UK), lecturer and contributor, ArtForum International

The Board members of the IAAC are:
Prof. Ai Min, poet and Vice-Chairman of Social Responsibility Management, Committee, China Minsheng banking Corporation (CMBC)
Prof. Ling Min, associate professor of Art History, Fine Arts Academy, Shanghai
Prof. Lewis Biggs, freelance curator, writer and cultural consultant; Chair, the Institute for Public Art Prof. Juan Cruz, artist; Dean, School of Fine Art, Royal College of Art, London
Henry Meyric Hughes (Chair), independent curator; Hon. President, International Association of Art Critics (AICA); special adviser, Council of Europe art exhibitions

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