ars viva 2020

In the exhibition ars viva 2020, the works of the award winners of the ars viva prize will be presented parallel to the annual conference of the BDI Kulturkreis in Leipzig. At the same time, a retrospective of the ars viva Prize will be presented. This prize, which in its initial stages was closely linked to social reconstruction in the Federal Republic of Germany, has developed over the decades to become one of the most important prizes for young contemporary artists.

Karimah Ashadu’s video works examine the topic of labour. The protagonists of her films are often shown within the socioeconomic context of Nigeria: workers in a sawmill on the Lagos State Lagoon, farmers extracting palm oil, or boxers in Nigeria’s slums. Her films frequently focus on male-dominated structures that have developed independently and in parallel to the political conditions in the country. In her works, the artist weaves documentary elements with fiction and draws on unconventional technical means to challenge the perception of the viewer.

In Thibaut Henz’s photographs, unusual perspectives and details often take centre stage. Snapshots and portraits are arranged into series featuring strong contrasting colours and diverse image formats. Surprising image combinations emerge as a result. In his exhibitions, Henz frequently assembles these series into displays that extend across the wall, often even stretching around the corners. His image compositions play with new aesthetics and viewing habits in the digital era.

The use of word and image plays a crucial role in Cemile Sahin’s artistic practice. In her cinematic work, for example, she stages film-noir-style crime stories that leave the question of the perpetrator unanswered. The plot is formed through contradictory accounts narrated by the film’s actors, each of whom claims to have committed the murder. These narratives are interwoven with close-ups of expressive faces and depictions of different actions that occur simultaneously. Her work also includes collages of text and image as well as lecture performances. In addition, she also writes novels.

The jury, chaired by Ulrich Sauerwein, consisted of members of the Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft’s Committee for Visual Arts along with cooperating partners Julia Schäfer (Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig), Bettina Steinbrügge (Kunstverein in Hamburg), Zita Cobb, Willem de Rooij and Nicolaus Schafhausen (Fogo Island Arts), and Dr Franziska Nentwig and Mathilda Legemah (Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft). Dr Stephanie Rosenthal (Gropius Bau) served as an adviser.

The exhibition of this year’s ars viva prize winners will open on October 12, 2019 at Galerie für
Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig. A second iteration will take place at Kunstverein in Hamburg.

About the Award:

Since 1953 the Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft has awarded the ars viva prize to outstanding young artists based in Germany. The focus is on positions that make it possible to recognize an autonomous stylistic idiom and an awareness of contemporary cultural and social questions. This year’s award includes exhibitions at the Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst Leipzig and the Kunstverein in Hamburg as well as an artist residency on Fogo Island (Canada). Each artist receives a 5,000 Euro stipend. In addition, the Kulturkreis will produce a bilingual catalogue published by Kerber Verlag. The jury selected this year’s awardees from 49 nominated artists under the age of 35.

In collaboration with the Kulturkreis der deutschen Wirtschaft im BDI

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