Power 100: ArtReview lists the top 100 names in the art world for 2016

In this 15th edition of Power 100, Swiss curator Hans Ulrich Obrist tops the list.

Art Radar takes a look at some of the highlights from Asia and Africa.

Hans Ulrich Obrist. Image courtesy ArtReview.

Hans Ulrich Obrist. Image courtesy ArtReview.

On 20 October ArtReview magazine announced curator Hans Ulrich Obrist as the art world’s most powerful figure. Now in its 15th year, ArtReview’s Power 100 makes a list of the top 100 names to watch in the art world.

Hans Ulrich Obrist, who has been listed in Power 100 since its inception in 2002, is the artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries and ‘instigator’ of global art projects. But this is only part of what he does. In a statement, ArtReview comments:

This official role tells you very little about what it is that this Swiss curator actually does. When Obrist last topped the Power 100, in 2009, the magazine quoted the opening point of the curatorial statement from his Beijing Mini Marathon of ideas: ‘Don’t stop. We never stop.’ And Obrist singularly has not. The curator is famous for ignoring traditional constraints of both time (he works nearly constantly, and famously founded the Brutally Early Club, an open-to-all discussion group that meets at 6.30am) and geographic place (he is in perpetual motion, giving talks and doing interviews at nearly every significant art event around the globe), and a single institution could  never hope to house the full breadth of his activities.

Hito Steyerl. Image courtesy ArtReview.

Hito Steyerl. Image courtesy ArtReview.

Power 100 includes artists, curators, collectors, directors, theorists and gallerists. They are selected each year in consultation with an invited international panel of writers, artists, curators and critics. The panellists look for people who have had, according to the press release, “international influence over the production and dissemination of art and ideas within the artworld and beyond over the past 12 months”.

Ai Weiwei. Image courtesy ArtReview.

Ai Weiwei. Image courtesy ArtReview.

The top ten included names such as artistic director of Documenta 14 Adam Szymcsyk, artist and theorist Hito Steyerl, established gallerist Larry Gagosian and at number ten, artist Ai Weiwei, the only Asian representative in the top ten.

New entrants

There were a number of new entries to the list this year. The new additions include Indian artists Raqs Media Collective at no. 86 and South African artist Zanele Muholi at no. 95, among others.

The Raqs Media Collective, made up of artists Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta, combines art, curating and theory. Formed in 1992, this year the collective will curate the 11th Shanghai Biennal in November entitled “Why Not Ask Again? Manoeuvres, Disputations and Stories”. They also include their own work in biennials as well as contributing to the urbanism research platform that the trio cofounded in 2000, Sarai.

Johannesburg-based Zanele Muholi is an artist and activist championing the often voiceless. She works in photography and filmmaking, and is a self-titled visual activist. She often campaigns against the violence faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities in South Africa and beyond. She is the co-founder of the Forum for Empowerment of Women and founder of the Inkanyiso forum for queer media, and in 2015 she was shortlisted for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize.

Adam Szymczyk. Image courtesy ArtReview.

Adam Szymczyk. Image courtesy ArtReview.

Curators as change-makers

Curator, critic and former poet Okwui Enwezor comes in at spot 20. It is not surprising that such a well-known figure, who was the first African curator of the Venice Biennale, is regularly listed on Power 100. Performa’s annual gala was dedicated to him for his role in raising the visibility of South African art while he also oversees an ambitious programme at Munich’s Haus der Kunst.

Other notable curators listed were Lebanese curator Christine Tohmé (at 49) and Cameroonian curator Koyo Kouoh (at 75). Key roles for Tohmé include the directorship of the Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts and curating 13th Sharjah Biennial, for which she has been travelling extensively. Kouoh is the founding artistic director of Raw Material Company Dakar and is a champion of art from Senegal and its neighbours.

Mrs Nadia Samdani and Mr Rajeeb Samdani. Photo by Shumon Ahmed. Image courtesy Samdani Art Foundation.

Mrs Nadia Samdani and Mr Rajeeb Samdani. Photo by Shumon Ahmed. Image courtesy Samdani Art Foundation.

Advocates for the arts

Hong Kong collector and head of K11 Art Foundation (KAF) Adrian Cheng (listed at 54) has been rising steadily since his inclusion in 2014. Coming from a high-profile business family, Cheng has been a great advocate for raising the profile of emerging Chinese art. KAF has been involved in organising hundreds of events in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Wuha, as well as creating links with institutions such as the Palais de Tokyo and Centre Pompidou in Paris.

In Bangladesh Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani have been making waves building an art scene through the Dhaka Art Summit. The third biennial Dhaka Art Summit was held in February 2016, attracting international names and raising the profile of art in the region. They are also working on the 2018 opening of the country’s first contemporary art museum, in Sylhet, in the northeast of Bangladesh.

Claire Wilson

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Related topics: international art, lists, art world happenings, curators, news

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