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Whitechapel Gallery announces winner of the 2018 NEON Curatorial Award
From left to right: Elina Kountouri (Director, NEON); Chris Fite-Wassilak (one of this year’s judges); 2018 winner Olivia Aherne; Iwona Blazwick (Director, Whitechapel Gallery); Nayia Yiakoumaki (Head of Curatorial Studies and Project Manager of NEON Curatorial Exchange & Award). Photo: Rosie Kennedy. Courtesy Whitechapel Galley.

LONDON.- Whitechapel Gallery announced Olivia Aherne as the winner of the 2018 NEON Curatorial Award.

For the annual NEON Curatorial Award, emerging curators are invited by the Gallery to devise an imaginary exhibition proposal drawing from the D.Daskalopoulos Collection, which includes over 500 contemporary artworks by 220 leading international and Greek artists. For this year’s Award proposals were submitted by aspiring curators from Greece, as well as students and alumni from the following Masters programmes: Curating the Art Museum, Courtauld Institute of Art; Curating Contemporary Art, Royal College of Art, and Curating, Goldsmiths College.

Olivia Aherne received the award from Dimitris Daskalopoulos for her submission proposal, [De]Railing the System , at a ceremony held at the Whitechapel Gallery on Thursday 13 December.

Aherne’s proposed exhibition, [De]Railing the System at BAK in Utrecht, invites the audience to consider and critique the alienating and exploitative nature of present day social, economic and political systems.

Taking four film works from the D.Daskalopoulos Collection as its cue, [De]Railing the System proposes a rigorous programme of discussions, workshops and performances that address these contemporary issues during a time of increasing globalisation and presiding capitalism.

For a duration of six weeks, the exhibition would be presented across three stations at BAK: Station #1 – Portraits of the ‘Other’: Homogeneity & Heterogeneity presenting works by Kutlug Ataman and Julian Rosefeldt; Station #2 – Exploitation Under Capitalism: De - colonising the Workforce presenting the 2007 film Gravesend by Steve McQueen; Station #3 – Police, Policy, Parley, Play culminates with the 2007 four-channel video installation Mock Up by Aeroout Milk.

Through this exhibition idea, the project aims to demonstrate how collections can be used to contribute to public debate around pressing contemporary issues.

The proposed exhibition would be accompanied by a publication featuring transcripts from the discussions and an in-conversation with the four exhibiting artists.

The judging panel for the 2018 NEON Curatorial Award are: Chris Fite-Wassilak, independent curator and critic (London); Helena Papadopoulos, curator and founding director of Radio Athènes (Athens); Kathy Battista,Founding Director of the MA program in Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, New York, and Co-Founder of Art Legacy Planning (New York); chaired by Dr. Nayia Yiakoumaki, Curator Archive Gallery, Head of Curatorial Studies and Project Manager of NEON Curatorial Exchange & Award.

Of the winning proposal the judging panel commented: "Olivia Aherne's proposal for the exhibition [De]Railing the System , imagines the curatorial process as being beyond just a staging of works, combining insightful choices from the collection with multiple forms of audience interaction. Aherne's proposal is comprehensive thought out, and her professionalism and ambition shone through.”

Elina Kountouri, Director of NEON said: “During the troubling rise of hyper- consumption and increased isolationism and blinkeredness, an engagement between communities and individuals is an essential antidote. It is with pride that we grant Olivia this Award, which celebrates discursive exchange as one of its central principles and look forward to keeping track of her further curatorial endeavours.”

The NEON Curatorial Award was established in 2012 to champion curatorial excellence and is part of an ongoing partnership between the Whitechapel Gallery and NEON, a non-profit organisation in Athens. Building links between emerging curators in London and across Greece, the prize celebrates the exchange of ideas and innovations in the presentation of contemporary art.

Olivia Aherne is a curator and researcher interested in discursive frameworks, collective learning, and ways in which we can facilitate and mediate multiple understandings of the world. Her recent research explores practices that disrupt or provoke society through critical analysis and action. She holds an MA in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art London, and received a distinction under the supervision of Dr Ben Cranfield, Kelly Large and Victoria Walsh. She has curated projects in partnership with LUX (London, UK), for Lewisham Arthouse (London, UK) and at the Onassis Cultural Centre (Athens, Greece). She is also the co- founder and curator of DRIVE-THRU, a curatorial collective that works with artists practicing at the intersection of art and technology, and regularly contributes to publications such as thisistomorrow and Orlando.

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