The Future Generation Art Prize
The Future Generation Art Prize was launched in 2009 and is the first global art prize to discover, recognize and give long term support to an emerging cohort of artists. Produced by the PinchukArtCentre which is supported by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, if I had to pick just one thing to see in Venice this year, It would be this show.
The competition is open to artists working in all media under the age of 35 from all over the world and has two editions or phases – the first wave are selected and exhibited at the PinchuckArtCentre in Kiev and then the show is moved to Venice as a special exhibition. In its current incarnation there are 21 artists from 16 different countries.
The organization has some very powerful associations – its board members include Sir Elton John and the jury all kinds of art luminaries including Hans Ulrich Obrist. The prize also has some of the most successful contemporary artists participating as mentors including Andreas Gursky, Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons. If you combine this support with the money that is provided by the Pinchuck Foundation and the excellent curation by Bjorn Geldhof the show has every chance of being hugely successful. It is, in fact, superb.
The thing that makes the exhibition so special apart from the high quality of the work and the powerful organization that supports it, is the context in which it was presented. The artists were confronted with the very beautiful late 15th century the Palazzo Contarini Polignac with its layers of exotic Venetian history and fabulous interiors; it is such a stunning space. Each artist has been allocated a room or an area in the building and many of them created new works that are site specific. Each participant owns their space and holds it in a different way. The works they have produced are clear, powerful and stand on their own two feet, not requiring much curatorial explanation. There is very little didactic explanation of the works but this does not detract from the experience.
These are the works that I particularly enjoyed, not all of them prize winners. Meris Angioletti, from Italy, uses sound in a work which is based in an exquisitely panelled room; two voices speak the imaginary language in a structure of an ancient Greek ritual related to the birth of tragedy, a very curious sounding incantation. A few paces away you can discover the delightful Super 8 work by Basim Magdy, Time laughs back at you like a sunken ship. Down an amazing embossed leather passageway you discover the hilarious but very clever Yan Xing piece the Sweet Movie, which is a continuation of his exploration of a scene in a film with a beautiful naked actor lying in a fabulous bed looking like a model from an Old Master picture surrounded by a film crew. Another personal favourite was the work of Rayyane Tabet, a Lebanese Artist. He won a special award for Architecture Lessons in which he multiplied an original wooden toy set to become a field of 34,000 concrete sculptural copies of its part, an urban landscape of models in a courtyard. With 21 artists’ work on view, there is so much to choose from.
To see works juxtaposed against this beautiful Venetian building is really wonderful; as a visitor you are on a voyage of discovery in an unknown but incredibly exciting and privileged space. Viewers are left to discover the Palazzo and as each door opens or curtain moves another beautiful curious and exciting new art work is discovered. It is a rare feast and even better as you are left to find the rooms in their own order and way.
Sarah Hyde lives in Paris and is our European Editor.