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Thoma Foundation’s Digital Arts Writing Awards Go to Mary Flanagan and Dawn Chan

From left to right, Mary Flanagan and Dawn Chan.


The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation in Chicago has named the winners of its 2018 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art. Mary Flanagan will take home $40,000 as the winner in the foundation’s established arts writer category, while Dawn Chan will receive $20,000 as the winner in the emerging arts writer category. Both awards come with additional funding for five- or six-week stints in the Robert Rauschenberg Residency program in Captiva Island, Florida.

Flanagan is known for writings that fold theories related to gaming into the history of art. Feminist writings and media theory play an important role in her work, which has explored everything from a version of Waiting for Godot that took place in a chatroom to the game Adrift. She has authored such books as Critical Play: Radical Game Design (2009) and Values at Play in Digital Games (2014), and has edited the anthology Reload: Rethinking Women in Cyberculture (2003).

From 2007 to 2018, Chan was an editor at Artforum, where she published various essays, including one about “Asia-futurism” that theorized a new kind of “techno-Orientalism” in the West. Her writings have also appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and the New York Times, among other publications.

Of this year’s winners, Stuart Comer, one of the awards’ jurors and the chief curator of the Museum of Modern Art’s performance and media art department, said in a statement, “We chose writers who are addressing digital art within a very specific political moment.” Comer’s fellow jurors were Kathleen Forde, the artistic director–at–large of Borusan Contemporary, and Frieze editor Dan Fox.

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