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Incentive Prize for Young Critics 2016: AICA Announces the Winner and Two Honorary Mentions


Incentive Prize for Young Critics 2016
AICA Announces the Winner and Two Honorary Mentions 

The Jury of the AICA Incentive Prize for Young Critics, 2016 edition − Sara Hermann (Dominican Republic), Michael Asbury (United Kingdom) and Carlos Acero Ruiz (Dominican Republic) − has chosen the text “The Creation of Sanctioned Spaces and the Fall of the Cuban Wall: The 12th Bienal de La Habana”, by Victor Wang (Canada-UK) to be the winner.

Two honorary mentions have been awarded: first, to Francisco Dalcol (Brazil) for his essay “Ruinas de la modernidad y utopías fracasadas: la fotografía de Romy Pocztaruk (Ruins of modernity and failed utopias: the photography of Romy Pocztaruk)”, and second, to Yenny Hernández Valdés (Cuba), for “El gusto por el cuerpo. Estrategias discursivas de la novísima generación de fotógrafos cubanos del cuerpo (The taste for the body. Discursive strategies of the new generation of Cuban body photographers).”

The Jury and the Awards Commission, chaired by Adriana Almada, congratulate all participants, while emphasizing that “the task of choosing the ‘best’ piece of writing was not easy this year, since, by their very nature, but fortunately, the samples of writing were highly diverse in content and style.” They were chosen among 29 valid submissions over 39 in total (27 in Spanish and 12 in English), coming from Cuba, Ireland, USA, El Salvador, Barbados, Brazil, Guatemala, Venezuela, Greece, Spain, México, South Korea, United Kingdom, Guyana, and Puerto Rico.

Wang is a curator born in Vancouver and based in London. About his text, the Jury states: “Victor Wang’s review of the 12th Havana Biennial offers an insightful contextualisation of the event within the political moment of transition in which it takes place, in addition to tracing the institution’s own history since that other moment of transformation, 1989. This fact is already concisely stated in the essay’s title ‘The Creation of Sanctioned Spaces and the fall of the Cuban Wall’. These ‘sanctioned spaces’ relate to three projects by international artists (Aman Mojadidi, Victor Ekpuk, and Jeanno Gaussi) that, according to Wang ‘significantly attempt to rethink the role of the invited artist in relation to Cuban Society’. This is a pressing issue that transcends the specificities of the local geopolitical situation. One could say that it is a problem within what has been described as the biennialisation of the art world. That is to say, the globalisation of the biennial model, and the problematic relation that this poses within the local art, cultural and social contexts. Wang is nevertheless able to brilliantly discuss his three case studies in relation to specific local issues and contexts, demonstrating an ability for concision while not jeopardising the complexity of the issues at stake”.

Francisco Dalcol is an art critic, researcher and independent curator born and based in Brazil. The Jury commented: “His essay on Romy Pocztaruk’s photography offers a theoretical analysis of the work of the artist in terms of both her subject matter (the ruins of utopian projects) and her process (the act of travelling). The essay lucidly traces the artist’s creative trajectory while contextualising her work within current contemporary art and photographic theory. This is an astounding example of monographic writing that spans both the academic and art critical domains”.

Yenny Hernández Valdés, born and based in Cuba, specialises in cultural promotion in Havana. The Jury praised her essay for offering “an in-depth analysis of the historiography of the body as photographic subject matter amongst contemporary Cuban photographers” and for serving “to contextualise current practices within the local development of thematic genealogies and to usefully counteract facile associations that are often made at a global level”.

Since 2011, the AICA Incentive Prize For Young Critics has been an annual contest organized by the Awards Commission of AICA International in conjunction with the AICA Congress. Its aim is to recognize and promote emerging voices in art criticism around the world. Previous winners include Franck-Hermann Ekra (Ivory Coast), Alessandra Simões Paiva (Brazil), Sebastian Baden (Germany) and Lee Sun Young (South Korea). The 2016’s edition of the Award has the support of AICA Fellowship Fund Commission and AICA Cuba.

The winning prize consists of a trip to the 2016 AICA Congress, which will take place in Havana in October 11-15, 2016, and a 3-year membership of AICA offered by the Fellowship Fund Commission. As the winner, Victor Wang, will not be able to attend this year’s event due to previous commitments, AICA International has invited him to take part in the next Congress to be held in 2017 (place to be confirmed).

The three winning texts will be published on AICA’s website:

The International Association of Art Critics (AICA), founded in 1950, is an international non-profit organisation linked to UNESCO, which aims to further cooperation in the visual arts and in cultural development among art critics, artists, and other art professionals. It brings together over 4.600 art professionals from some 95 countries all over the world, organised into 63 National Sections and an Open Section.