Anna Bonsink and Giulia Calvi win AKO Curatorial Award 2021

31 Jan 2022

The Courtauld is pleased to announce that the AKO Curatorial Award, offered to graduates of the MA Curating the Art Museum programme, has been awarded to Anna Bonsink and Giulia Calvi. The prize of £3,000 has been awarded to a joint proposal by the graduates entitled In Plain Sight: Queering Nordic Modernism. Two runners-up awards of £1,000 each were given to Alice Acland and Lorenz Ecker for their proposal A Scream through Nature: Fear and Nordic Art, and Tamsin Golding Yee for her proposal Localities, Internationalities: Urban Encounters.

The fifth AKO Curatorial Award, one of a series of annual awards presented by the AKO Art Foundation, was announced on 17 January 2022. The award was created to support and encourage the development of curatorial skills among recent graduates. It was conceived for a gallery space in the new museum in Kristiansand, Kunstsilo, which is opening in 2024. It follows a competition for exhibition proposals based on the Nordic modernist works in the Tangen Collection.

The Award was judged by Martin Caiger-Smith, Head of the MA Curating the Art Museum, at The Courtauld, Trude Gomnaes Ugelstad, Artistic Director of Sørlandets Kunstmuseum, Kristiansand, and Beate Mjaaland (AKO Art Foundation).

Anna Bonsink and Giulia Calvi’s winning proposal explores the rich diversity and complexity of the Tangen Collection, understanding queerness not just as an identity label but as ‘a defiance of conventions and norms regarding how people should live, behave or look’. In Plain Sight ranges across the full extent of the Tangen collection and includes paintings, sculptures and works on paper from artists working across the Nordic region over the last century. While modernism itself is usually seen as a male and heteronormative genre in art, the exhibition proposes, ‘queer artworks have always been there, perpetually defiant, challenging and radical.’ The exhibition’s celebration of queer art and culture marks the occasion of Norway’s Queer Culture Year in 2022, the fiftieth anniversary of the repeal of section 213 of the Norwegian Penal Code and the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the country.

Artists proposed for the exhibition include Norwegian sculptors Else Hagen and Aase Texmon Rygh, the Swedish painter Gösta Adrian-Nilsson and photographer Christer Strömholm, Danish surrealist Rita Kernn-Larsen and the Finnish author and painter Tove Jansson.

The jurors commended the winning proposal highly for its timely and compelling theme, its articulate curatorial approach, and the rich and diverse nature of the selected works. Trude Gomnaes Ugelstad commented: “This is the Award’s fifth year, and once again, we have been impressed by the quality and originality of all the proposals, which continue to find fresh insights within the collection.”

The award winners will work with curators and others at the Sørlandets Museum (soon to be renamed Kunstsilo) to develop the proposal for an online exhibition, to be launched on the museum’s website later in 2022.

L - R: Giulia Calvi and Anna Bonsink