May 23, 2019 - Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation - 2019 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Arts
May 23, 2019

Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation

McKenzie Wark and Legacy Russell. Photos: Julian Budge and Daniel Dorsa.

2019 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Arts
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The Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2019 Arts Writing Awards in Digital Art. McKenzie Wark will receive USD 40,000 in recognition of their sustained dedication to the field as an established arts writer, and Legacy Russell will receive USD 20,000 for her exceptional promise as an emerging arts writer. Initiated in 2015, the Arts Writing Awards provide unrestricted, merit-based funding in support of writing that advances research, scholarship, and dialogue in digital art. A total of USD 300,000 has been granted to date.

The Arts Writing Awards are the first of their kind to devote substantial funding to writing about digital art. Each year, a pool of approximately 30 nominees are selected by experts in the field. The two awardees are chosen by a committee based on the merits of their writing, its rigor, their engagement with pressing issues, and their grasp of the history of the field.  

The 2019 selection committee was composed of three experts in the field: Steve Dietz, Co-Director of Northern; Robyn Farrell, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art, Art Institute of Chicago; and Dr. Pamela Lee, Carnegie Professor of Modern and Contemporary Art, Yale University.


About the Awardees
McKenzie Wark
, an Australian-born media theorist who teaches at The New School in New York City, is an established writer who challenges the value systems of internet culture. Among their books are A Hacker Manifesto (Harvard, 2004), Gamer Theory (Harvard, 2007), The Beach Beneath the Street (Verso, 2011) and Capital is Dead, forthcoming from Verso in Fall 2019.

The selection committee recognized Wark’s essay “Digital Art, the Market, and the Collection” (e-flux journal, 2016/2017) as the writer’s key statement on the economic quirks of networked art, calling the text “an innovative study on the impact of digital culture on art.”

“Digital art can tell us about the hidden possibilities for what everyday life could be like outside of domination and control,” says Wark, known for their ability to speak across fields and generations. Wark began writing about digital art in the 1990s, on early internet listservs that brought together new communities of artists, activists, and theorists. Wark says they hope this writing award “encourages others to imagine that writing doesn’t have to be entirely dictated by the arbitrary rules of fields, genres, institutions and markets.”


Legacy Russell is a curator and emerging writer who advocates black excellence in digital art. Born and raised in New York City, she is the Associate Curator of Exhibitions at The Studio Museum in Harlem. Russell holds a dual-major BA with Honors from Macalester College in Art History & Studio Art and English & Creative Writing with a focus in Gender Studies, and an MRes in Art History with Distinction from Goldsmiths, University of London with a focus in Visual Culture. 

The selection committee recognized Russell’s manuscript on “Glitch Feminism” as a potentially field-defining category of digital art, calling the text “clear and radical in its approach” to cyberfeminism. Russell’s forthcoming book on this topic will be published by Verso Books.

Russell’s academic, curatorial, and creative work focuses on gender, performance, digital selfdom, internet idolatry, and new media ritual. She says her work “brings to the forefront the contributions of queerness, blackness and black culture toward technological advancement,” and she intends to “play a role in making visible a more intersectional, diverse representation of digital culture.”


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Carl & Marilynn Thoma Art Foundation
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