Berlin Art Week Magazine 2019
Text by Christiane Meixner
Dirk Skreber’s paintings seemed downright understated next to other entries in the competition: the monumental spray-painted work of Katharina Grosse, for example; Olafur Eliasson’s massive wall of compacted earth; or the cryptic videos for which Christian Jankowski hired four fortune tellers who promised each of the nominees the prize.
And yet it was Skreber who took the Nationalgalerie’s first award in 2000—and the cheque for 100,000 Deutschmarks in prize money that it entailed. The others went away empty-handed, forecasts and fortune-telling notwithstanding. And yet almost two decades later, you can see how spot-on the jury was in selecting its four nominees: all of them have had significant careers since then.
That the prize itself would also have a career was not foreseeable at the time. It has evolved, however, in part thanks to some adaptations and changes over the years. The second iteration saw a reorganisation of the prize money: 25,000 euros went to winners Michael Elmgreen and Ingar Dragset, the other half toward the purchase of their work ›Temporarily Placed‹ (2002). It was a win-win situation for both the artist duo and the Nationalgalerie; the installation, which consists of a lifelike patient seen lying in a hospital bed, plays on the situation of many publicly-funded museums facing continuous budget cuts. By 2005 at the latest, when the third award round was presented—with performer John Bock, film artist Anri Sala, and Angela Bulloch, whose three-dimensional works examine complex ordering systems—it became clear just how much contemporary art’s horizon broadened with each passing year. The prize ultimately went to Monica Bonvicini, the fourth in the group, for her installation ›Never Again‹ (2005)—a room full of black leather swings on silver chains, reminiscent of a sex club darkroom.
The Preis der Nationalgalerie (National Gallery Prize for Young Art) has long been considered the most important German award for artists under the age of forty. Nominees are chosen by a different jury each year; while the long list is kept a secret, the four shortlisted artists exhibit at Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart—Berlin in the year in which they were nominated. The public is also invited to choose its favourite to be revealed at the end of the exhibition, although the audience pick sometimes deviates from that of the jury. There has been a parallel Förderpreis für Filmkunst (Award for Cinematography) since 2011 and Udo Kittelmann, director of the Nationalgalerie, changed the rules again two years later: now the prize money is used to purchase an artwork and commission a major solo show of the winner’s work the following year. Anyone who has seen the projects of Mariana Castillo Deball (2014), Anne Imhof (2016), and Agnieszka Polska (2018) knows that it’s been a win for visitors as well ever since.
Pauline Curnier Jardin
Pauline Curnier Jardin once spoke of an »appetite for details« and makes every effort to satisfy this hankering with her art. Her works including ›Teetotum‹ (2017) and ›The Resurrection Plot‹ (2015) show a blend of wit and the grotesque, anarchy, and eroticism. Viewers of her associative, montage-based films search in vain for a coherent story, and the artist sees no distinction in traditional classifications such as male and female, animate and inanimate, rational and emotional. Instead she creates alternative narratives and experiments with a different, feminist view of historical events and cultural phenomena.
The question of identity in the hyperreal age plays a key role in Simon Fujiwara’s often collaborative work. His installation ›Joanne‹ (2016/18), for example, takes up the cause of a teacher who was important to Fujiwara. She was the victim of defamation on the Internet; the artist dedicates a professional campaign to creating a new, positive image for her. The fact that this, too, is based largely on stereotypes is typical of Fujiwara’s work. His precise stagings show the individual to be fictitious and constructed, situated in the charged area between truth and forgery. Fujiwara shows us again and again that it is the breaks and contradictions that have the most profound impact on our own self-image and the way in which we view others.
Personal biography echoes in the work of Flaka Haliti, but rarely becomes as specific as it does in ›its urgency got lost in reverse (while being in constant delay)‹ (2017), a piece created with materials from a military flea market in Kosovo. The artist was born in the city of Pristina, Kosovo, from which she had to flee during the war. While Haliti has repeatedly addressed themes of migration and forced mobility in her installations, performances, photographs, and drawings, she usually does it in reference to the experiences of others, whose stories she records and retells. At the same time, her works examine the openness and the boundaries of Europe’s political systems.
The term Post-Internet Art has been used to label many things in the past few years, but one can hardly think of a more apt description for Katja Novitskova’s work. Novitskova transfers her digital subjects into the analogue realm—refiguring them as flat displays or sculptural, immersive installations, as in the 2015 work ›Pattern of Activation (planetary bonds).‹ In doing this, she creates a scenario of a completely technologised future. Real and virtual worlds, technology and nature are intertwined beyond recognition. Everything is subject to the decisions of artificial intelligence, its increasing emancipation from human control, and the question as to how much influence we can still have over these processes anyway.
So 18 AUG 2019
at Aktionsraum Hamburger Bahnhofs
A personal impression of the four nominees and their artistic mode of working can be gained on Sunday, 18AUG 2019, at Hamburger Bahnhof. Here, a panel talk with the four nominees will take place. Subsequently the nominees for the Förderpreis für Filmkunst 2019 are speaking in another panel.
PANEL TALK WITH THE NOMINEES FOR THE PREIS DER NATIONALGALERIE 2019
Pauline Curnier Jardin, Simon Fujiwara, Flaka Haliti, Katja Novitskova
Moderation: Dorothée Brill
18 AUG, 14—15 Uhr
PANEL TALK WITH THE NOMINEES FOR THE FÖRDERPREIS FÜR FILMKUNST 2019
Lucia Margarita Bauer, Lukas Marxt, Nicolaas Schmidt, Jan Soldat
Moderation: RP Kahl
18 AUG, 16—17 Uhr
PREIS DER NATIONALGALERIE 2019
Shortlist-Ausstellung der nominierten Künstler*innen
16 AUG 2019—16 FEB 2020
Eröffnung 15 AUG, 20 Uhr
Tue, Wed, Fri 10am—6pm, Thu 10am—8pm, Sat, Sun 11am—6pm