Enthusiasm and a throng of visitors for the opening of the Piemonte Share Festival. Greeting the public were directors Chiara Garibaldi and Simona Lodi, who announced the winners of the Share Prize, the prize designed to discover, promote and support the digital arts, before raising the curtain on this year’s exhibition. The Share Prize this year is focused on the theme for the 7th Share Festival, entitled Cops & Robbers. The theme takes its inspiration from the use of appropriationism, activism and plagiarism in art, which today has turned fakes, mash ups and remixes into an avant-garde artistic stance that flirts with what customarily is the wrong side of the law. A theme that fits perfectly with the sort of ‘networking’ that, ever since its beginnings, has straddled the dialectical line between legality and illegality, between theft and giving, between openness and closure, between intellectual property and sharing, and hence between widespread participation and a position of dominance. Approximately 250 entries from 20 countries were submitted for the 2011 Share Prize, setting the jury, consisting of Bruce Sterling and Simona Lodi, the curator of the exhibition, a tough task for short-listing the finalists for the much sought-after prize.
The six finalist works, on exhibition at the Regional Museum of Natural Science until 13th November, are: Paolo Ciro | Alessandro Ludovico (IT) Face-to-Facebook, Mul Geert (NL) God’s Browser, IOCOSE (IT) Sunflower Seeds on “Sunflower Seeds”, !Mediengruppe Bitnik (CH) Chess For CCTV Operators, SWAMP (Studies of Work Atmosphere and Mass Production) Douglas Easterly (NZ) | Matt Kenyon (USA) Tardigotchi and Julian Oliver (NZ) | Danja Vasiliev (RU), Newstweek.
Three prizes have been awarded this year:
This year’s 5th Share Prize, valued at EUR 2,500, was awarded to Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico for their project Face to Facebook. Foe the jury, consisting of Bruce Sterling and Simona Lodi, the curator of the exhibition, “with a title like “Cops & Robbers”, this year’s prize could only really have been won by them, and perhaps another five hackers in the world who have pulled off stunts like this. They are the perfect winners for the Cops & Robbers theme. They blended artistic elements with an extraordinary talent for activism, bringing Zuckerberg’s colossal to its knees. The winning artists did not hesitate to overstep the line of the law to denounce an even bigger theft to the detriment of users: that of the ownership rights to their personal data, held by Facebook.”
A commendation went to the runners-up, Julian Oliver and Danja Vasiliev, for Newstweek. Their media art work is perhaps better called a critical engineering project, as the artists themselves call it in their manifesto. Computer code is expanded into the psychological and social realms, shaping people’s behaviour. Awareness of this takes the critical engineer-artist to study the history of art, architecture, activism, philosophy and invention to rework the strategies and ideas of these disciplines for application in art. The end aim is to claim back the intersection between production and consumption of technology.
A third award was introduced this year, assigned by the public and organised in partnership with the contemporary art magazine Artribune. In recent weeks, the public was called upon to cast their vote on the six finalist works and choose their favourite. The winning work was Sunflower Seeds on “Sunflower Seeds” by the IOCOSE group, a performance played out at the Tate Modern in London in January 2011, appropriating an installation by Ai Weiwei in the Turbine Hall, recreated ay the Regional Museum of Natural Science for the Share Festival. The overwhelming number of votes cast by the public can be read as a wonderful, enthusiastic response to the invitation to participate and take part in the Share Prize. We’ll be sounding you out again next year!