Mika Rottenberg Is the 2018 Winner of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize

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The Smithsonian American Art Museum has announced that Mika Rottenberg is the 2018 winner of its James Dicke Contemporary Artist Prize. Rottenberg was selected by a panel of jurors who wrote in a joint statement, “Mika Rottenberg’s art represents the outliers and the overlooked, giving vivid form to the contemporary human condition. Through video, sculpture and installation, she turns her attention most often to women, creating a portrait of female experience in our hyper-connected, global capitalist reality.”  

Rottenberg is the 12th winner of the $25,000 award, which recognizes an artist younger than 50 who has produced a significant body of work and consistently demonstrates exceptional creativity. It is intended to encourage the artist’s future development and experimentation.  

“Mika Rottenberg’s art brings to light issues of class, labor and gender that are under discussion today,” said Stephanie Stebich, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “The Smithsonian American Art Museum is pleased to recognize an artist with such a distinctive and vital voice.” 

The five jurors who selected the 2018 winner are Andrea Andersson, the Helis Foundation Chief Curator of the Visual Arts at the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans; Jose Diaz, chief curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh; Courtenay Finn, curator at the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado; Sarah Newman, The James Dicke Curator of Contemporary Art at the Smithsonian American Art Museum; and Jennifer Steinkamp, artist.

The jurors wrote in their decision, “Rottenberg explores unexpected corners of women’s labor, training her eye on people ranging from retail workers and oyster shuckers to body workers and fetish models. At once intimate and grotesque, surreal and humorous, she reveals the power of the mundane and builds connections between seemingly unrelated geographies and economies. Her vision is broad and inclusive, and her art is one of the most distinct and exciting representations of our world today.”

“Rottenberg’s art shines a light on some of the most unexpected corners of our world today, revealing the profound strength, vulnerability, sensuality and eccentricity of the people in them,” Newman said. “Her work is an endlessly compelling and unexpectedly warm portrait of contemporary experience.”

Rottenberg was born in 1976 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the School of Visual Arts in 2000 before earning a master’s degree in fine arts from Columbia University in 2004. She has participated in numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad, including most recently “Mika Rottenberg” (2017) at the Bass Museum of Art in Miami; “The humours” (2017) at the Monash University Museum of Art in Melbourne, Australia; “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” (2016) at the Art Gallery of Guelph in Guelph, Canada; and “NoNoseKnows” (2015) at the Shishang Art Museum in Beijing. Rottenberg is represented by Andrea Rosen Gallery in New York and Galerie Laurent Godin in Paris.    

Rottenberg will present the annual Dicke Contemporary Artist Lecture in fall 2018; details will be available online at americanart.si.edu/calendar once the date is confirmed. 

In addition to Rottenberg, the 2018 nominees were Diana Al-Hadid, Kathryn Andrews, Sadie Benning, Sanford Biggers, Paul Chan, Ian Cheng, William Cordova, Sharon Hayes, Leslie Hewitt, Glenn Kaino, Ebony G. Patterson, Adam Pendleton, Mickalene Thomas and Saya Woolfalk.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s award to a contemporary artist has been presented 12 times since 2001. Previous winners were Njideka Akunyili Crosby (2014), Kathy Butterly (2012), Pierre Huyghe (2010), Mark Dion (2008), Jessica Stockholder (2007), Matthew Coolidge, director of the Center for Land Use Interpretation (2006), Andrea Zittel (2005), Kara Walker (2004), Rirkrit Tiravanija (2003), Liz Larner (2002) and Jorge Pardo (2001). Artists must be nominated by a juror to be considered for the award; there is no application.

The Dicke Prize is part of the museum’s ongoing commitment to contemporary art and artists through annual exhibitions, curatorial appointments, endowments, public programs, awards, acquisitions and commissions. From 2001 to 2008, the award was known as the Lucelia Artist Award. The current award is made possible by James Dicke II, former chair of the museum’s board of commissioners, through The James F. Dicke Endowment for Contemporary Art. 

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About the Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Smithsonian American Art Museum is the home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. The museum’s main building is located at Eighth and F streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Museum hours are 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily (closed Dec. 25). Its Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. The Renwick is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily (closed Dec. 25). Admission is free. Follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website: americanart.si.edu.

Press Images

  • Press - James Dicke Award, Mika Rottenberg

    Press - James Dicke Award, Mika Rottenberg

    Mika Rottenberg, photo by Jessica Chou