Olivia Aherne Wins 2018 NEON Curatorial Award

London’s Whitechapel Gallery has named curator Olivia Aherne as the winner of this year’s NEON Curatorial Award. The annual prize, a collaboration between Whitechapel and the Athens-based nonprofit organization NEON, recognizes curatorial excellence. Aherne was presented with the award, which aims to foster the exchange of ideas regarding the presentation of contemporary art between London and Greece, at a ceremony held at the gallery on Thursday, December 13.

Aherne’s winning exhibition proposal, “[De]Railing the System,” draws from the D.Daskalopoulos Collection, which includes more than five hundred contemporary artworks by 220 Greek and international artists amassed by the founder of NEON, and is divided into three sections: “Portraits of the ‘Other’: Homogeneity & Heterogeneity,” which displays work by Kutluğ Ataman and Julian Rosefeldt; “Exploitation Under Capitalism: De-colonising the Workforce,” which features work by Steve McQueen; and “Police, Policy, Parley, Play,” which presents work by Aernout Mik.

Award proposals were submitted by emerging curators from Greece, as well as students and alumni from master’s programs at the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Royal College of Art, and Goldsmiths College. The judging panel comprised the London-based independent curator Chris Fite-Wassilak; Helena Papadopoulos, curator and founding director of Radio Athènes; Kathy Battista, founding director of the master’s program in contemporary art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York; and Nayia Yiakoumaki, head of curatorial studies and a project manager at NEON.

“During the troubling rise of hyper-consumption and increased isolationism and blinkeredness, an engagement between communities and individuals is an essential antidote,” Elina Kountouri, director of NEON, said in a statement. “It is with pride that we grant Olivia this award, which celebrates discursive exchange as one of its central principles, and look forward to keeping track of her further curatorial endeavors.”

A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Aherne is the cofounder and curator of DRIVE-THRU, a curatorial collective that works with artists practicing at the intersection of art and technology.