When Frieze chose Pilvi Takala as the winner of the £11,000 Emdash Award, they were hoping, as every year, for a new artwork from an up-and-coming talent to liven up the tent at this month’s art fair.
What they didn’t expect is that the Finnish artist would hand over the money to a bunch of up-and-coming 12-year-olds, and let them decide on the best art to make with the cash. “I wouldn’t have children run a nuclear power plant but in the context of art their unpredictability is an asset,” says Takala. “Unlike any artists at Frieze, these kids have nothing at stake in the arts world.”
The committee met several times over the school holidays to debate the budget. Their project will be revealed at the fair on 19 October but ideas mooted include a series of personalised action figures and a trip to Jamaica. “On the first session the kids took Pilvi to Victoria Park playground and said they wanted to design a giant slide. One suggested building a house for his mum,” I’m told.
“There’s a risk that the children will come up with an idea that the art world will think is boring or undeserving, and the prize money will in some sense be wasted, but that doesn’t really bother me,” adds Takala.
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