The Berlin Art Prize, now in its fourth year running, announced its 2016 winners at Kühlhaus Berlin on Saturday December 10. Stine Marie Jacobsen, Benedikt Partenheimer and Lauryn Youden were awarded the trophy created for the occasion by Berlin-based artist Tomás Saraceno, a cash prize and four-week residency in Georgia beginning March 2017. Raul Walch was awarded an honourable mention.
The non-institutional award differs in its approach to the majority of art competitions in that the submission process remains anonymous, offering an alternative to the way art is “evaluated, interpreted, and publicly presented: Open for all, names and careers don’t count – only Berlin art!”
Piggybacking off pre-existing art prize structures, the title is somewhat humorous in its aim to be a [self-described] ‘cover version.’ At a time when the artists’ CV speaks louder than the work, and career development relies so heavily on the professionalizing of one’s practice, the approach feels restorative and enlivening.
aqnb has been following the progression of the 2016 edition, which began with an open call in September, culminating in an exhibition, which ran November 11 to December 10 and featured all nine nominees including Lindsay Lawson, Martin John Callanan, Regina de Miguel, Lotte Meret, and Aurora Sander. The accompanying catalogue ‘WORK HARD- HARD WORK’ featured contributions by the nominees, as well Ana Teixeira Pinto and Anna Zett among others.
There are no restrictions or rules with the Berlin Art Prize, providing a space for a multi-directional set of disciplines to come together. This year’s Jury including curator and art critic Karen Archey, art critic Kito Nedo and artists Emeka Ogboh, Susanne M. Winterling and Ahmet Öğüt.
There were a number of exciting events that splintered off from the main structure, including performative workshop Law Shifters led by Jacobsen and Bilal Alkatout, Meret and Isabel Mehl‘s performance ‘Rachel: The Pleasure Seeker’, a tattoo workshop with Girls That Poke, and public healing session led by Youden among other things.
Stine Marie Jacobsen
Jacobsen put together a performative workshop for the event. ‘Law Shifters’ worked with teenagers to explore law and moral questions by creating a series of ‘moot courts’ where “school classes discuss real court cases, reach their own verdicts, and compare these with the verdicts made in the original cases in court.” A playful approach to a the heavy subject of authority and powerlessness, the jury described the work as “the pinnacle of socially engaged art”.
Partenheimer’s installation of “dramatic images of smoggy cityscapes in China” spread around the floor of the gallery, and stepped on by visitors, was both sincere and nihilistic in its approach to the subject of climate change. A theme that feels both urgent and overwhelmingly helpless, the project responded to the role of the photograph within our current socioeconomic and environmental climate.
Youden’s installation ‘A Place to Retreat, When I am Sick (Of You)’ brought together a range of elements including Himalayan sea salt, essential oils, hand-dyed canvas and sound among many others, and became the backdrop for the healing ceremony performance ‘Sacred Serpent Sessions.’ A personal view into mental health, the project felt like a reflection of the constant search and struggle in the never-ending journey of healing.
The Berlin Art Prize project began in 2013 by four Berliners working in the field of art who had a shared interest in shaking up the traditional model of the art prize with the goal of supporting Berlin-based art practices. Like other awards, the aim is to provide financial support and tackle some of the struggles associated with lack of funding and how to remain independent in the particular climate.**
Select exhibition photos, top right.