The award was established in 2012 to champion curatorial excellence, and is part of an on-going 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.

Emerging curators are invited by the Gallery to devise an exhibition proposal drawing from the D.Daskalopoulos Collection, which includes 500 artworks by 170 international and Greek artists. The best submission received the award at a ceremony at the Whitechapel Gallery on Thursday 4 December.

Curator Elina Axioti was chosen as the third recipient of the NEON Curatorial Award for her proposal Civilisation Lost, which combines modern and contemporary works by Thomas Hirschhorn, Sarah Lucas, Gilbert & George, Bruce Nauman and others with an investigation of archaeology. Set in the basement storage spaces of a modern office building in downtown Athens, the proposed exhibition imagines a section of the ancient Athenian ‘long walls’ preserved in the foundations, and places artworks against this unique setting. For the proposal Elina Axioti was interested in the concept of Wunderkammern, the first halls in which archaeology was ‘determined as a premature pseudo-science’, and objects were used as ‘elements that were holding narrations’.

The judging panel for the 2014 NEON Curatorial Award consisted of three curators: Nico de Oliveira, London Metropolitan University, Polly Staple, Chisenhale Gallery and Andrea Tarsia, Royal Academy of Arts and was moderated by Nayia Yiakoumaki, Whitechapel Gallery.

Of the winning proposal the judging panel commented: ‘Axioti addresses strong themes of current interest in her proposal. She looks at the D.Daskalopoulos Collection in a new way, for both a local and an international audience. The suggested venue for the exhibition, a space which is normally hidden from public access, is unique and captivating.’

Elina Axioti is a PhD student at the Institut für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte at Humboldt University in Berlin. She studied Architecture and Humanities and Cultural Studies at the University of Thessaly in Greece and the London Consortium, University of London. Axioti also worked as an assistant curator for the exhibition Heaven Live at the 2nd Athens Biennale in 2009. Axioti is also a grant recipient of NEON scholarships in 2014.

Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery said: ‘The NEON Curatorial Award is a fantastic initiative, inspired by the D.Daskalopoulos Collection and encouraging a curatorial dialogue between London and Greece. It is a pleasure to recognise the innovation and originality of Elina Axioti’s proposal, with its archaeological references and unique location, and give praise to an outstanding curatorial talent for a third year’.

Dimitris Daskalopoulos, Founder of NEON said: ‘The NEON Curatorial Exchange and Award develops an important cultural exchange between Greece and the UK. Founding this kind of network is an important way to implement change socially and economically and is vital to future creativity’.

Notes for Editors

– The NEON Curatorial Award (formerly Demergon Curatorial Award) is open to curators across Greece and London, including current and alumni students from London Metropolitan University, The Courtauld Institute, Goldsmiths College and the Royal College of Art. The award builds on the Whitechapel Gallery’s local and international networks with academic departments of curatorial studies.

– The NEON Curatorial Award is part of the NEON Curatorial Exchange, in which curators benefit from a four-day study trip to Athens and London, including guided tours of the Athenian and London art scene. The exchange is designed to open up networking and professional development opportunities for young curators. The programme is organised by the Whitechapel Gallery and has been devised and coordinated by Nayia Yiakoumaki, Curator at the Whitechapel Gallery and Project Manager of the NEON Curatorial Exchange and Award.

– Applications for next year’s award will open in summer 2015.

– NEON works to bring contemporary culture closer to everyone. As a non-profit organization it aims to create new conversations and a larger, informed society around the arts. It aspires to change perceptions and introduce a culturally relevant and cosmopolitan activity in Greece. Founded by art collector and entrepreneur Dimitris Daskalopoulos, and under the Directorship of Elina Kountouri, NEON breaks with the convention of a permanent space as the home of activities for a collector and instead acts on a multi-locality of initiatives, spaces, civic and social contexts, where activities are developed and public accessibility is encouraged. This constitutes a diverse and open space within society, where information is disseminated and the relationship between the city, the arts and its inhabitants is reflected.

– For over a century the Whitechapel Gallery has premiered world-class artists from modern masters such as Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko to contemporaries such as Sophie Calle, Lucian Freud, Gilbert & George and Walid Raad. With beautiful galleries, exhibitions, artist commissions, collection displays, historic archives, education resources, art courses, dining room and bookshop there is always something free to see. The Gallery is a touchstone for modern and contemporary art internationally, plays a central role in London’s cultural landscape and is pivotal to the continued growth of the world’s most vibrant contemporary art quarter.

– For further information on NEON, please visit http://neon.org.gr

– For further information on the D.Daskalopoulos Collection please visit http://ddcollection.org

– The judges for the 2014 NEON Curatorial Award are: Nico de Oliveira, Course Leader on MA Curating the Contemporary, London Metropolitan University; Polly Staple, Director, Chisenhale Gallery; Andrea Tarsia, Head of Exhibitions Management, Royal Academy of Arts. The panel is chaired by Nayia Yiakoumaki, Curator Archive Gallery & NEON Curatorial Exchange/Award Project Manager, Whitechapel Gallery

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