New art prize nets winner $100,000 from billionaire collector Victor Pinchuk
Exercises in futility seldom have paid off as handsomely as they did Friday for Cinthia Marcelle, a 36-year-old Brazilian conceptual artist who was named the first winner of the Future Generation Art Prize sponsored by Victor Pinchuk, the Ukranian billionaire art collector who’s on the board of L.A.’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
The prize, which will be awarded every two years, is worth $100,000 -- $60,000 in cash and $40,000 to cover costs of the winner’s future works. Contenders have to be 35 or younger when they apply to be considered. The contest’s four mentors -- Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and German artist Andreas Gursky -- gathered onstage to congratulate the winner.
Romanian artist Nicolae Mircea won a $20,000 special prize. The 19 other finalists, including the lone American -- L.A. sculptor Ruben Ochoa, 36 -- had to content themselves with having their work included in the Future Generation Art Prize exhibition at the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev, which runs through Jan. 9.
Marcelle’s entry consisted of three videos documenting works combining earthworks art and conceptualism. In one, a firetruck drives around and around in a tight circle as day gives way to nightfall; all the while two of its crew members spray water into the center of the orb. In another, a bulldozer drives unceasingly over the ground, creating an infinity sign in the dirt.
According to a narration on the Pinchuk Art Centre’s website, “the endlessly repeated actions in her work are absurd and futile until they end up in geometrical forms, like abstract manifestos … reflecting subversively on social behavior and social structures.”
Ochoa, a graduate of Otis College of Art and Design and the master’s program at UC Irvine, tells his own story on video, noting that one piece, “Wha Chu Looking At,” is dirt and refuse he found in an empty lot in East L.A., then cast in concrete. “The origins of my work deal with how space is demarcated by class and race,” said Ochoa, who got his first notice from The Times at the 2004 California biennial at the Orange County Museum of Art, where his entry was the 1985 Chevy van, formerly his father’s tortilla delivery truck, that he turned into a mobile art gallery starting in 2001, mounting 20 shows featuring 75 artists.
Ochoa still has a shot at the non-monetary “People’s Choice Award,” determined by votes on the exhibition website and announced when it ends.
The Future Generation competition received 6,000 submissions via the internet from 125 countries; while it was open to all, a group of 100 art experts each got to nominate up to five contestants. A jury of seven artists appointed the selection committee, then evaluated the finalists; jurors were Daniel Birnbaum of Sweden, Nigerian Okwui Enwezor, Yuko Hasegawa of Japan, Ivo Mesquita of Brazil, Eckhard Schneider of Germany, American Robert Store and Ai Weiwei of China.
-- Mike Boehm
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Photos: Cinthia Marcelle's "475 Volver" (video, top); Ruben Ochoa. Credits: Vimeo; Kirk McCoy/Los Angeles Times (Ochoa).