Absolut Art Award 2013
If you want a quiet weekend, never fill a hotel with artists and writers. When Absolut decided to announce the winners of the Art Award, they sent over the cream of international art writers to the Nobis Hotel in the centre of Stockholm. The trip became not only a chance to celebrate the Award, its nominees and winners - but an opportunity to experience some of the best contemporary art that Sweden’s capital has to offer.
We jumped off the plane (and after a well-timed spree on clothes at Acne Studios), headed to Tensta Konsthall art founda¬tion for a discussion with designer Zak Keyes about the role graphic design had to play in the art world. The growing group of writers then headed to Magasin 3, one of the highlights of the week. This incredible exhibition space and collection in a converted industrial warehouse was showcasing the exhibition ‘On The Tip Of My Tongue’, inspired by Pierre Huyghe’s seminal project at Documenta in 2012. Alongside work by Miranda July and Tino Seghal, the real gem was Pierre Bismuth’s humorous art film about an Ed Ruscha papier mache rock hidden in the California desert.
That evening, the focus returned to the Absolut Art Award, with all the nominees gathering for a cocktail recep¬tion and garden party at Ett Hem. The art nouveau boutique hotel was a perfect place for the 2013 Award’s chair Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, along with Saskia Neuman, Art Manager at Absolut, to thank and introduce
the judges and artists who took part. The jury had been arguing over the winners until the last minute so there was a real sense of energy amongst the exceptional panel of judges - artist Susan Hiller, and curators Beatrix Ruf from the Kunsthalle Zurich, Chus Martinez from El Museo del Barrio and Maria Lind from Tensta Konsthall.
The Award shortlist mingled amongst us – the artists Anna Boghiguian, Goldin + Senneby, Re¬nata Lucas, Seth Price and Theaster Gates, and the art writers Coco Fusco, Hamza Walker, Hito Steyerl, Lars Bang Larsen and Luis Camnitzer. There were a lot of greetings between old friends and new ones formed. A lot of Absolut cocktails were drunk and huge number of Swedish grav¬lax canapés were consumed.
The next day was the central part of the trip – the day of the announcement. That morning we headed to the Absolut brand home Atelier, for the Absolut Art Award media briefing – covet¬ing the selection of wild pillows that decorated the moodily lit, high ceiling room. Two exceptional women were quickly announced as the winners - artist Renata Lucas and writer Coco Fus¬co. Lucas’ project is to create a new ephemeral disembodied museum in Rio, exploring the role of public space and ideas amongst the increasingly gentrified city. Fusco is starting to write a publication on contemporary performance art in Cuba. Both were global art projects that could not have been achieved without the help of the award.
We all sat over lunch afterwards and discussed some of the nominated projects, such as Theast¬er Gates’ proposed project in New Orleans and Lars Bang Larsen’s book about the concept ‘the art world’, and prepared for a more off-duty day ahead. Everyone jumped on coaches like we were on a glamorous school trip and went to the Moderna Museet, Stockholm central modern art museum. Alongside the permanent collection, the Surrealism and Duchamp show exhibited some of Marcel Duchamp’s greatest works. Also on display was POP! Art Design, looking at the international exchange between Pop artists and designers with over 200 works on show by Niki de Saint Phalle, Joe Tilson, Charles and Ray Eames and Claes Oldenburg. The color, plasticity and humor of the show were a great warm up to the evening ahead.
Those with stamina headed to some commercial galleries. Photographic artist and painter Matts Leiderstam was exhibiting at Andrehn-Schiptjenko and Turkish conceptual artist Meriç Algün Ringborg was on show at Galerie Nordenhake – two respected Scandinavian spaces. An hour later it was on to Bonniers Konsthall, a major contemporary project space that opened in 2006. On show was Art of Memory, exploring history, personal memories and our
take on the past. At the heart of the show was an entire room devoted to rediscovered Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow, with her visceral take on flesh, skin and physical memory.
We raced back to change and then it was time to go to the Gala Dinner at the Haga Royal Park Green House. The entire space, which once served as the Royal kitchen gardens, was deco¬rated in sparkling white lights. Absolut began to flow before the dinner. Collaborators with the Absolut Art Bureau past and present were there - including Absolut art bar artists Jeremy Shaw, Ry Rocklen and Adrian Wong. As we sat down for a Michelin star dinner, there was raucous applause for the winners and organizers. A photographic studio was set up in one part of the room and guests were invited to pose for their own black and white glossy Absolut ad. As the night progressed the new surprisingly sexy prints were hung for increasingly drunk revelers to enjoy and take home.
After dinner, a curtain opened behind the bar and a red curtained dance floor was revealed that was quickly filled. The night got late, everyone drunkenly lost their photographs in taxis
and headed back to the hotel. There was a lot of wandering between rooms as the attending journalists, artists and writers carried the party on into the night.
The next day, those with serious energy and art addiction continued with a trip to Iaspis, an international Swedish art exchange program’s space. Last of all was Asbolut’s own art collection at Spiritmuseum, where an exhibition ‘Rude Girls’ by vibrant feminist painter Beatrice Cussol was on show alongside Absolut’s history of collaborative artworks.
The whole trip was a perfect synthesis of that word – collaboration. It reflected a true genuine respect for serious art, lubricated by the freedom and energy of good conversation and drinks.