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Art World Top 100: Photographer and activist Nan Goldin at the top

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The opioid crisis in the US claims many lives. It is said to have been 100,000 last year alone. Artist and photographer Nan Goldin also became addicted to Oxycontin. The Sackler pharmaceutical family made a fortune with this painkiller, concealing the catastrophic consequences of the drug. The Sacklers generously invest part of this wealth in museums and universities.

Nan Goldin used artistic agitprop to publicize the Sacklers’ role in the Oxycontin scandal. She organizes protests against the pharmaceutical patrons, forcing museums to take a closer look. Laura Poitras’ documentary about Nan Goldin’s struggle won the Golden Lion in Venice this year.

Goldin fights for ethics in arts sponsorship

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Since then, the Sackler rooms have been renamed at the Metropolitan Museum and many other homes. For this enormous effect – and also for her photography, which has been shown at the Venice Biennale and currently at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm – the 69-year-old Goldin has now landed at number one in the top 100 list of the most influential people in the art world.

The art magazine “Monopol” publishes its ranking at the end of the year, which is compiled by the editors together with experts from the art world. The complete list is published in the December issue of “Monopol” that is published on November 24th. appears.

Ruangrupa, the curatorial collective of documenta fifteen.
© Photo: Jin Panjii
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Nan Goldin was second in 2019. This year’s second place is remarkable. This is proven by Ruangrupa, the curators of the Documenta, who are accused of having allowed anti-Semitic works at the Kassel World Art Exhibition with their eyes wide open. Ruangrupa’s handling of the crisis left a lot to be desired, but one thing is undisputed: they exerted influence.

They initiated a debate about anti-Semitism, Holocaust commemoration and post-colonialism, albeit partly involuntarily and silently, which clearly showed how little one can debate about this in Germany, how one almost immediately ends up mutually weighing up and condemning one another.

Historian Meron Mendel in the front seats

In this context, eighth place on the list: Meron Mendel, director of the Anne Frank educational institution, who in the anti-Semitism scandal of the Documenta always tried to explain, to convey, to let reason prevail. As a historian, Mendel is not part of the art world per se. He also deserves a place in the top 10 because he led the debate about artistic freedom and responsibility when nobody did.

In third place is Francis Alÿs, an artist who doesn’t easily fall into the activist camp. Although he also comments on politics and power structures in his videos, he also has an eye for the poetry of everyday life. One of the reasons why his films of children’s games from all over the world, which he showed in the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale, has delighted so many people is that they aim for humanity, for common ground rather than for division and struggle.

Also in the top 10: the newly discovered New York performance and video art legend Joan Jonas, who dealt with climate change early on, and sculptor Simone Leigh, who received a lion at the Venice Biennale. Venice Biennale curator Cecilia Alemani also made it among the most influential, as did the director of the Metropolitan Museum, Max Hollein, who, like many others, has frequently appeared in the top 100.

The list is heavily influenced by the mega events of this super art year. Due to the strong politicization in the art world, it is not even that political. Instead, intensive exhibitions seem to be remembered after the pandemic years 2020/21.

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Source: Tagesspiegel

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