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PROGRAMS / Aurora Award Dinner / Past Honorees

The Aurora Award will honor Doug Aitken on October 7th, 2009.


The Aurora Award
Past Honorees of the Aurora Award

Images from past galas are also available in our Photo Gallery on Flickr.
2001: Tony Oursler

Tony Oursler's brand of low-tech, expressionistic video theater is singular in contemporary art. Willfully primitive, often grotesque, and crafted with an ingenious visual shorthand, his psychodramatic landscapes of image and text are fabricated within the ironic vernacular of pop culture. Oursler has worked in installation, painting, sculpture, and video since the mid-1970s. His recent mixed media installations, in which theatrical objects such as puppets and dolls are layered with video projections and spoken text, are prefigured in the wildly inventive body of videotapes that he has produced over the past twenty years.

For more on Tony Oursler, visit his website.

2002: William Wegman

William Wegman began making performance-oriented videos in the 1970s, casting himself and his Weimeraner Man Ray as central characters. With deadpan humor and minimal props, Wegman created his own brand of absurdist theater, using his pets as an effective canvas for projecting human emotion. Wegman’s early videos such as Spelling Lesson, in which he acts as Man Ray’s English tutor, are enduring classics that have influenced three decades of video art. In the late 1970s, Wegman began working with a 20 x 24 Polaroid camera, photographing Man Ray, and later his successors. These works have become Wegman’s trademark and have gained him solo exhibits at the Whitney Museum of American Art; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Pompidou Centre, Paris; ICA, London; The Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. He has been included multiple times in festivals including Documenta, Kassell, Germany; Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial; and the Venice Biennale. Wegman has received two Guggenheim Fellowships, grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Creative Artists Public Service Award.

For more on William Wegman, visit his website.

2003: Laurie Anderson

Laurie Anderson is recognized worldwide as a groundbreaking multimedia artist. For three decades, Ms. Anderson has merged technology and art to create new music, performances, videos, films, visual art and spoken word. Her work breaks down formal boundaries while examining American identity and myths. Ms. Anderson’s large-scale theatrical works combine music, video, storytelling, projected imagery and sculpture. She has toured the United States and abroad numerous times with projects ranging from simple spoken word to elaborate multi-media events.

For more on Laurie Anderson, visit her website.

2004:Ant Farm

Founded in 1968 by renegade architects Chip Lord and Doug Michels, Ant Farm reflected the interdisciplinary, revolutionary spirit of the times. Joined by Curtis Schreier, Hudson Marquez and others, Ant Farm created Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, the House of the Century outside Houston, Texas, and the video classics Media Burn and The Eternal Frame (a collaboration with T.R. Uthco). Ant Farm 1968-1978, the first Museum survey of their work comes to Blaffer Gallery: The Art Museum at the University of Houston in January 2005.

“Ant Farm was a gorgeous god-knows-what: a collective project that straddled architecture and performance art and pioneered video art, that embraced some of the most radical ideas of the 1960s while remaining fond of iconic mainstream America, that was from the Bay Area and the East Coast and Texas, and that was generally as funny as it was smart.” --Rebecca Solnit, Author

For more on Ant Farm, visit their website.

2005: Isaac Julien

Since the beginning of his career in the 1980s, artist and filmmaker Isaac Julien has strove to connect artistic disciplines in new and innovative ways. Founder of Sankofa Film and Video Collective, Julien's films are recognized for their social commentary on identity-driven subjects, from race to class to sexuality. His works include the critically acclaimed documentary Looking for Langston about Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes and Young Soul Rebels, winner of the Semaine de la Critique prize for best film at the Cannes Film Festival. Roberta Smith of The New York Times has acknowledged that "[f]ew artists have cut as impressive a swath between structural and narrative film as the British artist Isaac Julien." Dinner guests will be treated to a special screening of works from Mr. Julien's career.

For more on Isaac Julien, visit his website.

2006: Miranda July

Miranda July is a filmmaker, performing artist and writer. She grew up in Berkeley, California where she began her career by writing plays and staging them at an all-ages club. July’s videos, performances, and web-based projects have been presented at sites such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum and in the 2002 and 2004 Whitney Biennials. Her collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, was published in 2007 and won the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her fiction has been printed in The Paris Review, Harper’s, and The New Yorker. In 2002 July created the participatory website, learningtoloveyoumore, with artist Harrell Fletcher, and a companion book was published in 2007 by Prestel. She wrote, directed and starred in her first feature-length film, Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005), which won a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and four prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, including the Camera d’Or. July debuted a new performance in 2007 at The Kitchen (NY), and is currently working on her second movie. She lives in Los Angeles.

For more on Miranda July, visit her website

2007: Steina and Woody Vasulka

Steina and Woody Vasulka are canonized as pioneers of electronic art, having begun experimenting with sound and image in 1969, shortly thereafter founding the legendary interdisciplinary art center, The Kitchen (1971), and later working among other avant-garde innovators (Hollis Frampton, Tony Conrad, Paul Sharits, James Blue, and Peter Weibel) at the Department of Media Study at SUNY Buffalo. For nearly four decades, the Vasulkas have continued to work, exhibit and teach about electronic art, as well as maintain The Vasulka Archive, an extensive repository of documents from the pioneering days of electronic, computer and video art (recently acquired by the Daniel Langlois Foundation). The Vasulkas have paved the way for today's artists to work in video installation, electronic music, live cinema performance, circuit bending, and other genres which merge art, engineering, and technology.

For more information on the Vasulkas, visit their website.

2008: A Celestial Event Anniversary Gala

In 2008, Aurora celebrated the Tenth Anniversary of the organization by honoring those who have shaped and supported Aurora Picture Show during this first decade of presenting the most significant media artists of our time, including:

  • M. Lucille Anderson and Jeff Shore
  • Randal Bell
  • Judy and Scott Nyquist
  • Cynthia Toles
  • Gabriela Trzebinski and Carlisle Vandervoort
  • Katherine and Mark Yzaguirre

Celestial-themed videos projected throughout the home, and given to guests on limited edition DVD, by artists: Be Johnny, John Carrithers, Kara Hearn, Hillerbrand+Magsamen, Eileen Maxson, and Potter-Belmar Labs.

2009: Doug Aitken

Aurora Picture Show, Texas's premiere microcinema organization, named acclaimed media artist Doug Aitken as the 2009 Aurora Award recipient. Winner of the International Prize at the 1999 Venice Biennale, Aitken is best known for his 2007 work, Sleepwalkers, which was presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and included the actors Donald Sutherland and Tilda Swinton, musicians Seu Jorge and Cat Power, and actor/street drummer Ryan Donowho.

More on the 2009 Aurora Award and Doug Aitken

2010: Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay is a London-based visual artist and composer whose innovative work explores the juxtaposition between sound recording, photography, video and film. Born in California and raised in Geneva (Switzerland), he studied sculpture at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston and at Cooper Union in New York. As performer and sound artist Christian Marclay has been experimenting, composing and performing with phonograph records and turntables since 1979 to create his unique "theater of found sound."

Marclay has collaborated with musicians such as John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins, Shelley Hirsh, Christian Wolff, Butch Morris, Otomo Yoshihide, Arto Lindsay, and Sonic Youth among many others. A dadaist DJ and filmmaker, his installations and video / film collages display provocative musical and visual landscapes and have been included in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou Paris, Kunsthaus Zurich, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

More on the 2010 Aurora Award and Christian Marclay
2011: Joan Jonas

Joan Jonas is a seminal figure in American post-war contemporary art. She works in several mediums including: performance art, video art, sculpture, filmmaking, photography and painting. In 2009, the artist was awarded the Guggenheim’s first annual Lifetime Achievement Award. Jonas has had retrospectives at the Queens Museum of Art, New York (2003), Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart Germany (2000), and at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1994). The artist has been represented in Documenta V, VI, VII in Kassel, Germany.  She has also exhibited in solo shows or performed at institutions such as: Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin; Sigmund Freud Museum, Vienna, Austria; Dia:Beacon, Beacon, New York; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain; Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Spain; Le Plateau and Jeu de Paume/ Hotel de Sully, Paris, France; Renaissance Society, University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

More on the 2011 Aurora Award and Joan Jonas

2012: Laurie Simmons

Laurie Simmons is an internationally recognized artist.  Since the mid-70’s, Simmons has staged scenes for her camera with dolls, ventriloquist dummies, mannequins and occasionally people, to create images with intensely psychological subtexts. Marked by intentional dislocations and unexpected conjunctions, the nonlinear narratives she creates echo those of memories and dreams. By the early 1980’s Simmons was at the forefront of a new generation of artists, predominantly woman, whose use of the media as subject began a new dialogue in contemporary art.
As part of the event, Aurora screened a selection of works by Simmons, including excerpts from The Music of Regret, from Tiny Furniture, and a short video with The Love Doll.  During cocktails, a color-blocked slide show of still images created for The Gothenburg Museum in Sweden exhibition of Laurie's work will feature Red, Yellow and Blue images. 

More on the 2012 Aurora Award and Laurie Simmons

2013: Bill Viola

Bill Viola is internationally recognized as one of today’s leading artists. He has been instrumental in the establishment of video as a vital form of contemporary art, and in so doing has helped to greatly expand its scope in terms of technology, content, and historical reach. For 40 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast. Viola’s video installations—total environments that envelop the viewer in image and sound—employ state-of-the-art technologies and are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity. They are shown in museums and galleries worldwide and are found in many distinguished collections. His single channel videotapes have been widely broadcast and presented cinematically, while his writings have been extensively published, and translated for international readers. Viola uses video to explore the phenomena of sense perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. His works focus on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness—and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism. Using the inner language of subjective thoughts and collective memories, his videos communicate to a wide audience, allowing viewers to experience the work directly, and in their own personal way.
As part of the event, Aurora screened a selection of works by Viola, including an excerpt of a new piece called The Dreamers (2013) and The Raft (2004). This will be the Texas premiere of The Dreamers, which will be shown in a projected viewing presentation. In addition to this piece, the evening also featured a montage of works spanning the career of the artist. 

More on the 2013 Aurora Award and Bill Viola

2014: Carolee Schneemann

Carolee Schneemann has been a pioneer of performance, body art, avant-garde cinema, and multi-disciplinary art for five decades. Schneemann's bold work has challenged notions of gender, identity and the body and has influenced countless artists throughout her career. Her work has been exhibited extensively including a recent solo exhibition at the Hales Gallery in London and a retrospective screening at Anthology Film Archives. Schneemann is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Gottlieb Foundation Grant, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the College Art Association.
Of Carolee Schneemann, an article in The Guardian (London) stated, "The artist, now 73, has spent her life smashing taboos and shocking audiences. She was at the forefront of movements that only later came to be known as body art, performance art and feminist art, paving the way for the likes of Marina Abramović, Cindy Sherman, Tracey Emin - and even Lady Gaga." Schneemann remarked, "My work became a bridge that had to be crossed by young feminists working with their bodies."

More on the 2014 Aurora Award and Carolee Schneemann

2015: Oscar Muñoz

Aurora Picture Show honored internationally renowned artist Oscar Muñoz at the 15th annual Aurora Award Dinner held at Leslie & Brad Bucher's converted warehouse space and chaired by Leslie & Brad Bucher, Rose Mary Salum, and Loris Simon S..
Oscar Muñoz's work blurs the boundaries between photography, painting, drawing, sculpture, installation and video. Using temporal materials such as water, fire and breath, he experiments with ephemeral of memory and identity. Art in America's Sarah King recently wrote, "Colombian artist Oscar Muñoz poetically destabilizes the fixity of images, focusing on the elusive, introspective moments when memories develop."
Muñoz has been exhibited at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Jeu de Paume, Paris; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museo Tamayo de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico City; Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá and the Venice Biennale, Venice. He has been represented by Sicardi Gallery (Houston, TX) since 2001. In 2013, Muñoz received the Prince Claus Award for "his highly original, profound and poetic artworks on the transitory nature of human existence, memory and history; for his dedicated commitment to heightening public awareness of both the power and fragility of the image in a context of violence and disappearance; for expanding the boundaries of the visual arts in his pursuit of accessible and deceptively simple ways to convey complex ideas; and for his generosity as a public intellectual, influencing younger generations and supporting the development of contemporary culture." 

2016: Gary Hill

Originally a sculptor, artist Gary Hill began to explore and deconstruct the nature of the relatively new, audiovisual medium of video in the early-1970s. Intrigued by video’s paradoxical ability to simultaneously create both intimacy and distance, he pioneered the use of video synthesizers and began his lifelong experimentation with verbal and visual language. For over four decades, Hill’s multisensory single-channel videos and installation works have explored time, space, the body, and linguistic systems of speech and text. “Hill creatively uses high-tech instruments to elicit personal experiences,” stated David Pagel of the LA Times, adding “With his work, the invisible operations of thinking take tangible shape.” Based in Seattle, Gary Hill continues to make significant contributions to the field of contemporary video art. 
Hill’s work has been featured in recent solo exhibitions at (add Seattle gallery), Seattle; Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Wolsfburg, Germany; Hong Kong Cultural Centre, Hong Kong; The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan; Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany; Donald Young Gallery, Chicago, Ill.; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Capp Street Projects, San Francisco, Calf.; and the Center for Contemporary Images, Saint-Gervais Geneve, Geneva, Switzerland. He has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Grant, Rockefeller Intercultural Media Arts Fellowship, National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and was awarded the Leone díOro prize for sculpture at the 1995 Venice Biennale.

2017: Barbara Hammer
Since the early-1970s, Hammer’s work has explored issues relating to women, gender roles, sexuality, lesbian relationships, and, in recent years, coping with family and age. Having created the earliest and most extensive body of avant-garde films on lesbian life and sexuality, Hammer is revered as a pioneer of queer cinema, a compassionate feminist, and an elder innovative media artist. After four decades and nearly 100 film, video, and performative works, Hammer retains both her avant-garde sensibility and the personal vitality that drives it. She remains as vital a visionary as ever. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship for her 2015 film Welcome To This House about the homes, loves, and struggles of poet Elizabeth Bishop. A new generation has been inspired by Hammer’s groundbreaking body of work via recent retrospectives at MoMA (New York), Tate Modern (London), Jeau de Paume (Paris), Toronto International Film Festival, Ujazdowski (Warsaw), and Museum Sztuki MS2 (Lodz). And just this year, Hammer has worked with New York-based non-profit Queer Art to establish an ongoing annual grant supporting the projects of lesbian filmmakers. 


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