“This official role tells you very little about what it is that this Swiss curator actually does,” says Mark Rappolt, Editor of ArtReview. “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.”
This year, three artists appear in the top 10. Hito Steyerl, the German artist whose theoretical approach has gained her an international following, comes in at number seven; German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans rises to number nine and Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei takes the number 10 spot. At number two is Polish art critic and curator Adam Szymczyk; while third on the list is Swiss husband-and-wife owners of gallery Hauser & Wirth, Iwan and Manuela Wirth. US art dealer David Zwirner is fourth on the list; while Adam Weinberg, director of the Whitney Museum of American Art, is at eighth spot. The highest new entries to the list include Frances Morris, newly appointed director of Tate Modern, at joint number five; and feminist theorist Donna Haraway at number 43. Artists entering the list for the first time include young British artist Ed Atkins at number 50; Indian artists Raqs Media Collective at number 86; South African artist Zanele Muholi at number 95; and Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson at number 100.
Number one on last year’s list were Iwan and Manuela Wirth, who earlier this year launched their new space in Los Angeles. Preceding them at number one in 2014 was Nicholas Serota, soon-to-be former director of Tate, who is this year’s joint fifth, shared with Morris. Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, head of the Qatar Museums Authority, took the top spot in 2013; while curator Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev led the list in 2012 after her direction of Documenta 13.
The list is compiled each year in consultation with a panel of writers, artists, curators and critics. Rankings are decided based on an individual’s (or group’s) international influence over the production and dissemination of art and ideas within the art world and beyond over the past 12 months.
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