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Mary Flanagan and Dawn Chan Receive Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art

The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation announced today that writers Mary Flanagan and Dawn Chan were named the recipients of the 2018 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art. Flanagan will receive $40,000 in recognition of her sustained dedication to the field, and Chan will receive $20,000 for showing exceptional promise as an arts writer.

The Arts Writing Awards were established in 2015 to provide support to writers who advance research, scholarship, and dialogue about digital art. Past recipients include Rudolf Frieling, Ed Halter, Nora Khan, and Christiane Paul, among others. This year marks the first time that the prizewinners will be able to participate in the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, for which they will be invited to Captiva Island, Florida, for five to six weeks in 2019.

Flanagan and Chan were chosen from a pool of thirty nominees by a selection committee comprising Stuart Comer, chief curator of media and performance art, the Museum of Modern Art; Kathleen Forde, artistic director at large, Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul; and Dan Fox, editor at large, Frieze magazine.

Flanagan has been writing about digital art since the 1990s, with a particular focus on virtual spaces and games. She is the Sherman Fairchild distinguished professor of digital humanities at Dartmouth College and leads the design research laboratory Flanagan is also the author of Critical Play: Radical Game Design (MIT, 2009) and coauthor of Values at Play in Digital Games (2014) and Similitudini. Simboli. Simulacri (Unicolpi, 2005).

Chan uses art criticism to confront the identity politics embodied in digital art. Underlying Chan’s work is the understanding that technological progress is not a purely inclusive social force. “Digital art always seemed both like a natural starting point [for me], and like a crucial yet too-often-overlooked area of contemporary art,” said Chan. Her writing has appeared in Artforum, where she was an editor from 2007 to 2018;; the New York Times;; and the Village Voice; among other publications. A former visiting critic at the Rhode Island School of Design, the Maryland Institute College of Art, and the City College of New York, Chan is currently a visiting scholar at New York University’s Center for Experimental Humanities.