Art Cologne 2020: ADKV Prize for Art Criticism: Noemi Smolik

Interview with Noemi Smolik, winner of the ADKV prize for art criticism. (In German language, English subtitles available)

The critic Noemi Smolik, who lives in Bonn and Prague, will be awarded the Art Critics’ Prize 2020. The 3,000 Euro prize is awarded by the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutscher Kunstvereine (ADKV) in cooperation with ART COLOGNE and is aimed at freelance journalists.

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Noemi Smolik has been working for many years on reappraising Eastern European and Russian art history. She does not shy away from dealing with academic circles or addressing a broad audience, so that she has a perfect command of and can perfectly handle an impressive range of art criticism formats – the entertaining feuilleton, the essay as a long read or the lecture. Time and again, she succeeds in breaking through and rewriting traditional narratives in a lasting way. But she is also particularly distinguished by her ability to work out, with great attention and precision, the findings of the history of non-state and dissident art in socialist societies, which have been buried again and again, and to resist the smoothing and leveling of historical conflicts. Only last year (and in the midst of the summery euphoric peak phase of the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus) Noemi Smolik explained to the readership of a national daily newspaper, for example, that Kasimir Malevich had not only been censored in Russia, but also by his supposed “fellow-mindedness” in Dessau. With forensic intuition, stereotypical images of the Russian avant-garde are turned upside down and the Western perspective on the October Revolution deconstructed.

With Noemi Smolik, the jury therefore honors a critic who understands how to pursue and implement content beyond cultural-political trends independently and unwaveringly. At a time when national populism is gaining strength in many European countries, the jury would also like to honor the life’s work of a border-crosser who is tirelessly committed to cultural mediation.

Since 1999 the prize has been awarded by the ADKV and since 2006 it has been presented in cooperation with ART COLOGNE, which also donates the prize money. The award honors the commitment of independent art critics who deal with contemporary art and its social context in the specialized and daily press or in other media.

Previous award winners: Antje Stahl (2019); Radek Krolczyk (2018); Kito Nedo (2017); Jörg Scheller (2016); Stefan Kobel (2015); Barbara Buchmaier and Christine Woditschka (2014); Astrid Mania (2013); Kolja Reichert (2012); Jens Kastner (2011); Jennifer Allen (2009); Rudolf Schmitz (2008); Ludwig Seyfarth (2007); Catrin Lorch (2006); Dominic Eichler (2005); Gregory Williams (2004); Raimar Stange (2003); Renate Puvogel (2002); Jan Verwoert (2001); Stefan Römer (2000); Hans-Christian Dany (1999).

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