The New York–based arts organization Independent Curators International has named Jochen Volz the recipient of its 2017 Agnes Gund Curatorial Award. The award, which is often referred to as the “Aggie,” is given biannually “to an established curator for their outstanding contribution to the world of art,” according to the organization.
Volz is a German-born curator who has worked extensively in Brazil over the past decade and a half. He was recently named general director of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, one of the country’s most important art museums, which houses an expansive collection of Brazilian art, from 19th-century to modernist works. He served as curator of the Brazilian Pavilion at this year’s Venice Biennale and previously worked as head of programming at the Serpentine Galleries in London, and in various positions, including artistic director, at Bernardo Paz’s Instituto Inhotim in Minas Gerais, Brazil, and as a curator at Portikus in Frankfurt.
“The things that drew us very closely to Jochen is the way artists occupy a central role in his thinking process,” ICI’s director, Renaud Proch, told ARTnews. Volz first worked with ICI in 2012, on one of its curatorial intensives in Brazil, and he recently gave a talk with the organization in which he discussed various exhibitions he has curated, including the 2016 Bienal de São Paulo. “A lot of his projects that he described began with conversations with artists and a desire to make one specific thing happen that then grew into a larger project,” Proch said.
Asked about his new job, Volz said, “Inhotim is, in a way, the opposite of Pinacoteca; it’s a very Brazilian museum of international art, while the Pinacoteca is a very global museum of Brazilian art. I’m looking at how you create dialogues around international artistic practices without losing a very specific local component and context.”
“The role of the curator,” Proch added, “is one that fosters arts community, supports artists in their work and practice, builds infrastructure for the production and presentation of artworks, and connects artists and artworks with their communities. These reflect ICI’s mission and core values and Jochen resonates with that.”
The award will be presented on October 25 at ICI’s annual benefit, in conjunction with the presentation of the group’s 2017 Leo Award, which is going to collector Patricia Phelps de Cisneros.