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Award controversy results in 'civilised' choice

13 September 2008 - In June, artist Peter Friedl withdrew from the competition for the prestigious Vincent Award, claiming that the competition was 'unethical' because one of the jury members owns a work by favourite Francis Alÿs. The award has now been given to Deimantas Narkevicius.

On 11 July, Hans den Hartog Jager argued in NRC Handelsblad that it is very unlikely that Friedl, known as a critic of power structures in the art world, had suddenly realised that the choice of the winner might not be entirely unbiased. In fact, Friedl must have planned the controversy as way to criticise the institution and as a work of art in itself.

Against that background, the jury should have called his bluff and given him the award anyway, Hartog Jager argued. Otherwise, they might opt for the 'civilised middle road' and give the award to Narkevicius, or snub Friedl and give it to Alÿs after all.

Yesterday, it was announced that the 50,000 euro prize has been awarded to Narkevicius. The public awarded a prize to Alÿs.

An exhibition featuring the nominees for the Vincent Award is on show at the Stedelijk Museum until 30 September.

Image: Jury The Vincent Award 2008. Photo: Gert Jan van Rooij / Stedelijk Museum


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