Theaster Gates receives the Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts | New


Theaster Gates received the 12th Austrian Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts. Image: Austrian Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Private Foundation

Artist, educator and town planner Theaster Gates received the Frederick Kiesler Prize for Architecture and the Arts from the Austrian Private Frederick and Lillian Kiesler Foundation.

The prize of 55,000 euros (65,000 USD), awarded every two years by the Republic of Austria and the city of Vienna, recognizes outstanding achievements in the field of architecture and the arts related to the experimental approach and innovative artist, designer, set designer and architect Frederick Kiesler at the arts.

“Space platforms that showcase the contributions of black artists and designers have long been overlooked,” explains Theaster Gates. “Projects that consider people as much as they consider the implications of built form deserve credit. I am so grateful to be a part of this precedent and honored that the Selection Committee recognizes my practice as part of the incredible work of the luminaries who have received this award in the past. I am grateful to everyone who supported my practice both in museums and on the street.

Gates’ Dorchester Projects, once abandoned buildings on the south side of Chicago, have revitalized themselves into vibrant cultural and community sites. Image: Sara Pooley. Courtesy Reconstruction Foundation

The Kiesler Prize jury included: Elizabeth Diller, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, New York; the president of the jury Bettina Götz, ARTEC Architekten, Vienna; Dominique Gonzalez-Fœrster, Paris; Anab Jain, Superflux, London and Vienna University of Applied Arts; and Wolfgang Tschapeller, Wolfgang Tschapeller ZT GmbH and the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

“By awarding the Kiesler Prize to Theaster Gates, the jury is honoring a conceptual artist who does not work within the architectural system or the established art world, but who has found agency through his very unusual and idiosyncratic practice. “Said the Kiesler Prize jury. “His artistic approach is characterized by transdisciplinarity, respect, inclusion and participatory processes. The most important goals of his work are social change, spatial transformation and empowerment. By imbuing this work with impressive aesthetic value and a social agenda, he found a significant role for contemporary architecture. In this way, Theaster Gates links the historical position of Frederick Kiesler to the pressing issues of our time.

Related on Archinect: A Conversation with Theaster Gates; Archinect Sessions Episode # 136

The official presentation of the award by Vienna’s Executive City Councilor for Cultural Affairs and Science Veronica Kaup-Hasler is scheduled for late autumn 2021.

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