Power 100, the annual ranking of the most influential people in art is something to look forward to. It says who is who in the world of art, and coming in the bylines of who is who makes all the difference.
ArtReview (founded in 1948), an international contemporary art magazine based in London, started making their Power List in 2002. Since then, every year, Art Review has published its list, a guide to the 100 most powerful figures in contemporary art. This list is put together by a network of around 20 art world insiders and outsiders located around the world. The magazine claims that the list is judged according to a person’s ability to influence the type of art that is being produced today and play a role in shaping the public perspective of art. Moreover, they have to have been active in the previous 12 months before the list is published and have to have an international rather than exclusively domestic influence.
The official statement of Art Review says, “The old cliché about it all starting with the artist doesn’t really hold; perhaps it never did. An artist doesn’t necessarily get a major museum show, simply because they are ‘the best’. Such events tend to be the result of a combination of the social, economic and, at times, political interests of a group of individuals. There would be no protests, no calls for reform, no argument or debate if power (and the inequalities that come with it) did not play out in shaping the type of art that gets exposed or the way in which it is presented. Indeed, one of the reasons ArtReview’s power list was initiated, in 2002, was to promote a consciousness of this – to examine the operations of a world that is forever teetering on the brink of becoming a self-sustaining insider chumocracy, or little more than a pantomime commodity exchange.”
Those who narrow down the Power list from 400 and odd nominations are kept anonymous. It is to avoid potential pressure and sanctions, the statement adds. Under normal circumstances their paths [of the Jury] would cross, some of their experiences would be shared, but in the current scenario, that’s not been the case.
2020 has been an exceptionally challenging year, and many museums, galleries, and other cultural initiatives haven’t escaped the pandemic’s radar. Of course, those of us who can access it keep track of art happenings online, but attention is increasingly focused on art that’s local, now that we can no longer really chase it around the world. In accordance with that, this year’s list includes a greater emphasis on the circulation of ideas and values (about justice, equality, ways of living, our relationship with the environment and basic human rights, to name just a few), and the way in which they, as opposed to works by individual artists or artist groups, are changing how we think about and engage with art. The Power 100 has always represented shifting values (and ways of valuing art) and changed points of view.
Even though most of the events have either been postponed or changed the mode to become online, galleries and museums, one way or another, and some time or other are bound to bounce back. 2020 Power List has considered that as well – of those who have shown the grit and determination to stay on their toes.
During the initial months of the pandemic, Kochi Muziris Biennale tried its best to steer clear on its path to launch 2020 on time. In the meantime, they continued to share artists’ experiences during the pandemic lockdown. In October, KMB’s official statement informed that the event is postponed to 2021. The Student’s Biennale is getting ready to be launched online this February. All these contributed to the selection of Bose Krishnamachari and curator Shubigi Rao to make to the Power 100 list.
The pandemic didn’t slow down Bose, in fact, his days had become doubly busy and packed with zoom and google live sessions. He continued to speak his voice, as India waddled through phases of lockdown and unlockdown. Bose’s strength comes from being firmly rooted in the Kerala art scene, and simultaneously operating from Mumbai and other metropolitan hubs. The support of the Government of Kerala is another piece of the puzzle that enabled KMB to become Asia’s largest contemporary art festival. One thing is to get to the Power 100 list, and it is altogether another milestone to retain it for 6 consecutive years. PhotoMail reached out to congratulate Bose Krishnamachari, who is presently traveling in Kerala. He said beamingly, “It is a reflection of the effort, sacrifice, and creativity of the entire Biennale community, including my colleagues at the Foundation, the artists and curators at the various editions, as well as our supporters, it’s ‘Our Biennale Effect’.”