The Contemporary Austin is pleased to announce artist Tarek Atoui as the winner of the 2022 Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize.
In addition to receiving a $200,000 cash award, Atoui will present a solo exhibition premiering in Austin in spring 2022 at The Contemporary’s downtown venue, the Jones Center on Congress Avenue. The exhibition will then travel to The FLAG Art Foundation in New York, where it will open in fall 2022. In addition to the exhibition and monetary award, the prize includes a scholarly exhibition catalog and public programming around the exhibitions at both venues.
Tarek Atoui is an artist and composer based in Paris, France who explores the medium of sound through dynamic installations and live performances. Drawing from methods of ethnomusicology, the artist grounds his work in multidisciplinary and collaborative research—historical, social, material, perceptual, and environmental—creating unexpected, evocative, and open-ended projects. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1980, Atoui moved to France in 1998, where he studied economics and electroacoustic music. Working together with instrument makers and sound engineers, he co-creates experimental instruments and sound assemblages, ranging from reinterpretations of ancient instruments to electronic and computer-based ones. These handmade objects simultaneously possess compelling beauty as abstract sculptures and function as musical instruments activated through performance.
“We are thrilled with the Advisory Committee’s selection of Tarek Atoui,” said Heather Pesanti, former Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs at The Contemporary Austin. “In such unprecedented times the museum is grateful to have the opportunity to support Atoui and his collaborators as they continue to create different ways of experiencing art and sound to several communities. His sensitivity to place through research and collaboration are perfect for our times. Given Austin’s rich live music community, we look forward to the partnerships with musicians and other creative individuals and organizations throughout the city that might be catalyzed through this exhibition.”
“In these times of social distancing and impossibility of coming together, this award is an homage to collaboration, performativity, improvisation, and composition,” said Atoui. “It is celebrating the role of art in bringing people together, and I’m honored to be its recipient.”
Atoui has presented his work internationally at the New Museum, New York (2009 and 2010); Sharjah Biennial in the United Arab Emirates (2009 and 2013); dOCUMENTA (13) in Kassel, Germany (2012); 8th Berlin Biennale (2014); Tate Modern, London (2016); NTU Centre for Contemporary Art, Singapore (2017); Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2018); 58th Venice Biennale, Italy (2019); and Okayama Art Summit, Japan (2019). He was co-artistic director of STEIM (Studio for Electro-Instrumental Music) in Amsterdam in 2007, and of the Bergen Assembly in Norway in 2016. The 2022 Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize exhibitions will be the artist’s first solo museum exhibitions in Texas and in New York.
This fall, Tarek Atoui: Cycles in 11 opens at the Sharjah Art Foundation in the United Arab Emirates. The culmination of an eleven-year project at the Foundation, the exhibition challenges established ways of listening through innovative approaches to sound and draws on the artist’s ongoing investigations of how deafness can influence the way sound performance, space and instrumentation are understood. In October he will open an exhibition at the Fridericianum in Kassel, Germany, centered around his ongoing project I/E about harbors and harbor cities. In February 2021, the artist will participate in the 13th Gwangju Biennale in South Korea. He recently explored the history and traditional practices of the region through visits with local Gwangju artists and professionals, including ceramists, instrument makers, musicians, and paper makers, which will inform his collaborative work.
Artist Portrait: Tarek Atoui. Image courtesy the artist. Photograph © Matteo Bellomo Fabrica.
Darby English, Michael Govan, Ingrid Schaffner, Catherine Wood, Heather Pesanti, and Stephanie Roach
Carl Darling Buck Professor, Department of Art History, University of Chicago
Darby English is Carl Darling Buck Professor in the Department of Art History at The University of Chicago. He is also associate faculty in the Department of Visual Arts and the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture. His teaching and advising address subjects in cultural studies as well as modern and contemporary American and European art produced since the First World War. English is the author of To Describe a Life: Notes from the Intersection of Art and Race Terror (Yale, 2019), 1971: A Year in the Life of Color (Chicago, 2016), and How to See a Work of Art in Total Darkness (MIT, 2007). He is co-editor of Among Others: Blackness at MoMA (MoMA, 2019), Art History and Emergency (Yale, 2016), and Kara Walker: Narratives of a Negress (MIT, 2002 and Rizzoli, 2007). From 2014 to 2020, English was Adjunct Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (MoMA).
CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Michael Govan joined the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) as Chief Executive Officer and Wallis Annenberg Director in 2006. In this role, he oversees all activities of the museum, from art programming to the expansion and upgrade of the museum’s twenty-acre campus. During his tenure, LACMA has acquired by donation or purchase more than 56,000 works for the permanent collection, doubled gallery space and programs, and more than doubled its average annual attendance to well over one million. Currently, the museum is in the process of building a new, state-of-the-art permanent collection building designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Peter Zumthor.
Former Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs at The Contemporary Austin
Heather Pesanti joined The Contemporary Austin in 2013 and was named Chief Curator & Director of Curatorial Affairs in 2018. At The Contemporary she organized monographic exhibitions and outdoor commissions of works by John Bock, Carol Bove, Abraham Cruzvillegas, Nicole Eisenman, Anya Gallaccio, Lionel Maunz, Rodney McMillian, Wangechi Mutu, Deborah Roberts, Torbjørn Rødland, Monika Sosnowska, Robert Therrien, and Marianne Vitale, as well as the thematic exhibitions Strange Pilgrims and The Sorcerer’s Burden: Contemporary Art and the Anthropological Turn. From 2008 to 2013 Pesanti was Curator at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York; prior to that she was the Assistant Curator of Life on Mars, the 2008 Carnegie International at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pesanti received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a master of science in cultural anthropology from the University of Oxford, England, and a master of arts in art history from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. She was a Getty Leadership Institute Fellow in 2017.
Former Director, The FLAG Art Foundation
Stephanie Roach was director of The FLAG Art Foundation, New York, since the institution’s founding in 2008, where she developed and oversaw more than fifty exhibitions with a range of guest curators, including those by Lisa Dennison, Jim Hodges, and Shaquille O’Neal, as well as in-house exhibitions featuring over six hundred established and emerging international artists. At FLAG, Roach curated One, Another (2011) and Space Between (2015), a co-curated exhibition with Louis Grachos. She has been a member of the Leadership Circle at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania since 2009 and a member of the Contemporary Circle at The Jewish Museum, New York, since 2016. Roach graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2005.
Curator, The Chinati Foundation
Ingrid Schaffner is Curator of the Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum in Marfa, Texas based on the ideals of its founder, the artist Donald Judd. In 2018, Schaffner organized the Carnegie International, 57th Edition, at The Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh; the exhibition featured thirty-two artists and collectives from some two dozen countries as well as public programming and publications. From 2000 to 2015, Schaffner was Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania, where she organized exhibitions with artists such as Polly Apfelbaum, Barry Le Va, Karen Kilimnik, and Jason Rhoades. A specialist in twentieth-century art, especially Surrealism, Schaffner is the author of more than twenty books as well as numerous articles. She has received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from Moore College of Art & Design and awards from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the International Art Critics Association.
Senior Curator, International Art (Performance), Tate Modern
Catherine Wood is Senior Curator of International Art (Performance) at Tate Modern. She commissioned Anne Imhof: Sex for the Tanks at Tate Modern in 2019 and the 2020 live exhibition, Our Bodies Our Archives by Faustin Linyekula, Okwui Okpokwasili, and Tanya Lukin Linklater. Wood co-curated the Robert Rauschenberg retrospective at Tate Modern in 2017 and initiated Tate Modern’s annual Live Exhibition in the Tanks, which has featured Fujiko Nakaya and Isabel Lewis (2017) and Joan Jonas and Jumana Emil Abboud (2018). Previous exhibitions include A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance (2012) and The World as a Stage (2007) at Tate Modern. Since 2003, she has commissioned artists including Mark Leckey, Joan Jonas, Otobong Nkanga, Sturtevant, and Boris Charmatz, and she initiated the online broadcast project BMW Tate Live: Performance Room in 2011. Additionally, Wood curated Yvonne Rainer: Dance Works for Raven Row in London in 2013, and is the author of Yvonne Rainer: The Mind is a Muscle (Afterall/MIT Press, 2007) and Performance in Contemporary Art (Tate Publishing, 2018).
The Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize, founded by The Contemporary Austin trustee Suzanne Deal Booth and administered by The Contemporary Austin, was announced in summer 2016 as an unrestricted award to be given every two years to an artist selected by a rotating, independent advisory committee made up of renowned curators and art historians of contemporary art. In fall 2016 the inaugural prize, which included a $100,000 award to an artist, along with a solo exhibition, an accompanying publication, and related public programming at The Contemporary Austin, was awarded to artist Rodney McMillian.
In May 2018, The Contemporary Austin and The FLAG Art Foundation announced the expansion and renaming of the award to the Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize. The prize includes a $200,000 award to an artist, along with all production expenses for a solo exhibition that premieres in Austin and travels to The FLAG Art Foundation in New York, an accompanying scholarly publication, and related public programming. The mission of the prize remains the same: each winning artist is selected based on his or her outstanding merit and strong record of international museum and gallery exhibitions and is an individual whom the Advisory Committee deems deserving of increased recognition, and for whom the award and exhibition would be transformative.
The 2020 Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize was awarded to Nicole Eisenman, whose exhibition Sturm und Drang is on view at The Contemporary Austin through November 15, 2020. A related exhibition, Nicole Eisenman and Keith Boadwee, will be on view at The FLAG Art Foundation from December 12, 2020, through March 13, 2021.
Suzanne Deal Booth has long been committed to the recognition and preservation of visual arts and cultural heritage. In 1998, Deal Booth co-founded the Friends of Heritage Preservation and has since served as director. Deal Booth has a Master of Arts in art history and art conservation from New York University’s Institute of Fine Arts. While at Rice and NYU, she had the opportunity to work directly under the tutelage of art patron and humanist Dominique de Menil. She worked with the artist James Turrell on Skyspace at MoMA PS1 (1986), later assisted on his retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and subsequently was the patron for his skyspace Twilight Epiphany at Rice University. She has worked at several institutions, including: les Monuments Historiques, France; the Kimbell Art Museum; the Menil Collection; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; and the J. Paul Getty Trust. She currently serves on the boards of the following arts organizations: LACMA, the Menil Collection, Ballroom Marfa, The Contemporary Austin, and the Calder Foundation. Her family spent a year living in Rome and later established the Suzanne Deal Booth Rome Prize Fellowship for Historic Preservation and Conservation at the American Academy in Rome. Deal Booth’s current endeavors include establishing and cultivating Bella Oaks, a certified organic vineyard and olive orchard in Napa Valley, CA, which produces a unique and celebrated Cabernet Sauvignon wine.
Photo by Inti St. Claire. Artwork © Charline von Heyl. Courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York.
The FLAG Art Foundation, founded in 2008 by art patron Glenn Fuhrman, is a nonprofit exhibition space that encourages the appreciation of contemporary art among a diverse audience. FLAG presents four to six exhibitions a year that include artworks by international established and emerging artists, borrowed from a variety of sources. FLAG invites a broad range of creative individuals to curate exhibitions and works in-depth with artists to provide curatorial support and a platform to realize their own solo exhibitions.
FLAG’s innovative approach to foster dialogue around contemporary art includes producing artist talks, artist-led workshops, and exhibition tours for school and museum groups. Based in the heart of Manhattan’s Chelsea art district, FLAG and its related programs are free and open to the public.