Stedelijk Museum wins Exhibition of the Year Award

Presentation of the AICA Award 2017 at the Stedelijk Museum’s Teijin Auditorium. From left to right: chairman of AICA Nederland Robert Jan Muller, curator Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen and Tino Sehgal. Photo: Hanna Hachula

AMSTERDAM – Last Wednesday, Robert Jan Muller, chairman of the Dutch Art Critics’ Association (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art), presented the AICA Award 2017 to the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam for the exhibition A Year at the Stedelijk: Tino Sehgal. Curated by former director Beatrix Ruf and curator Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen, the project presented a different artwork every month, throughout the whole of 2015. Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen accepted the award on behalf of the Stedelijk.

For an entire year (2015), unsuspecting visitors to the museum came across situations constructed by Tino Sehgal, whose work centres around live encounters, each one of which is a unique art experience. Martijn van Nieuwenhuyzen is delighted that the project has been selected for the award. “We are deeply honored to have been awarded this extraordinary prize by our peers. The Stedelijk has worked with Tino Sehgal since 2004. But the major project of 2015 was a challenge on every level. The incredible series of works that Sehgal created, often under great time pressure each month, questioned many written and unwritten museum rules and challenged all of our staff to think ‘out of the box’. That the museum, together with the public, became so intimately connected with this project, and our endeavor is now being honored by this award, establishes important groundwork for our future policy, in which the museum can act as a space for experiment, and a place to experience new art.”

Jury report AICA Nederland

The jury report states: “By staging the exhibition for an entire year, throughout the museum’s full opening hours, a much larger group of museum visitors was able to experience the ‘situations’ of Tino Sehgal. This engagement in the organization and investment was exceptional; we commend the museum for developing this radical new exhibition concept for performance art. A project involving such intense collaboration with an artist could have made (too) great an impact on the general museum experience. It did quite the opposite. Some works, like This Progress, and This Critique, invited the visitor to talk about art, something that rarely happens in museums in such a subtle yet effective way. By staging this survey, the Stedelijk helped performance art shed its elitist image for good. And that is an extraordinary and praiseworthy achievement.” The complete jury report is published on the AICA website.

Purchase of This Variation

Following the project, A year at the Stedelijk: Tino Sehgal, the Stedelijk acquired Sehgal’s work This Variation (2012). The work was featured in June 2015 at the Stedelijk Museum and was a co-production with Holland Festival. It is the second Sehgal work to join the Stedelijk Museum collection. In 2005, the museum purchased his first work as an artist, Instead of allowing some thing to rise up to your face dancing bruce and dan and other things (2000). This Variation is one of Sehgal’s most expansive pieces, bringing together every facet of his oeuvre. The work made its debut at Documenta 13 in 2012. This Variation will be re-enacted at the Stedelijk Museum in the 2018/2019 exhibition season.

This Variation was acquired thanks to the generous support of the Mondriaan Fund, the Curator Circle and the International Collector Circle. Birgit Donker, director of the Mondriaan Fund, says about the acquisition: “I am delighted that the Mondriaan Fund was able to contribute to this incredible purchase. The acquisition is a significant addition to the Stedelijk Museum and with this, Collectie Nederland, enriching the holdings with a key work by one of the most distinguished international artists. The purchase of This Variation underlines the importance of immaterial artworks, such as Sehgal’s ‘constructed situations’ for the museum and its public. His work is much loved by museum-goers, and for good reason. It’s wonderful that the work will be performed every two or three years, so that it can be experienced by future visitors to the museum.”

About the AICA Award

Over a period of three years, the AICA Award is alternately given to a Dutch publication (‘Whispers: Ulay on Ulay’ in 2015), an institution (Rijksakademie van Beeldende Kunsten in 2016) and, in 2017, an exhibition. The 174 members of AICA Nederland voted, amongst them art critics, university lecturers, museum curators and exhibition curators. This year’s jury for the AICA Award consists of Edo Dijksterhuis, Laura van Grinsven and Joke de Wolf.

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