C/O Berlin Talent Award 2019

Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques / Mira Anneli Naß
Sub Rosa, 2018 © Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques
C/O Berlin Talent Award 2019 Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques, Ausstellungsansicht © David von Becker
C/O Berlin Talent Award 2019 Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques, Installationview © David von Becker

C/O Berlin is delighted to award this year‘s C/O Berlin Talent Award to French artist Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques and to present his work in the solo exhibition Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques . Sub Rosa from 07 December 2019 to 29 February 2020 at C/O Berlin in the Amerika Haus at Hardenbergstrasse 22–24, 10623 Berlin. 

The only prize of its kind in Europe, the C/O Berlin Talent Award recognizes the exceptional work of young photographers and art critics. The 2019 prize has been awarded to Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques, who was also nominated and shortlisted for the 2018 award. Couzinet-Jacques’ outstanding signature style and sustained development are once again on display in his most recent work, Sub Rosa (2018), whose contemporary vision, documentary-like visual language, and intelligent combination of photography, video, and sound installations fully convinced the jury. Sub Rosa will be shown for the first time as part of a solo exhibition at C/O Berlin. A catalog accompanying the exhibition will be published by Spector Books, Leipzig. It is edited by Dr. Kathrin Schönegg of the C/O Berlin Foundation and includes an essay by Mira Anneli Naß, the recipient this year’s C/O Berlin Talent Award in the field of theory. 

C/O Berlin Talent Award 2019 Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques, Installationview © David von Becker
C/O Berlin Talent Award 2019 Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques, Installationview © David von Becker

Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques
(b. 1983, Sens, France) lives and works in Paris. He studied at the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Marseille, graduating in 2010, and the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie in Arles, graduating in 2012. His works have been exhibited at Le BAL in Paris, Fotofestival Mannheim-Heidelberg- Ludwigshafen and Aperture Foundation in New York. In 2015, Couzinet-Jaques held a fellowship at the Centre Photographique d’Ile-de-France in Paris, and from 2014–2016 he was artist-in-residence at the Cité Internationale des Arts program in Paris. In 2015, he was awarded the first Immersion Award by Fondation d’entreprise Hermès and Aperture Foundation. His first book, Eden (2006), was produced in collaboration with Fred Cave and published by Aperture. The project Sub Rosa was initiated during the artist residency (2017-2018) by Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques at the French Academy Casa de Velázquez in Madrid and was supported by the Centre National des arts plastiques and the Fondation des Artistes in 2019. Most recently, he was selected as a 2019 Foam Talent by the Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam.

C/O Berlin Talent Award 2019 Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques, Installationview © David von Becker
C/O Berlin Talent Award 2019 Sylvain Couzinet-Jacques, Installationview © David von Becker
Theorist Zitat von Mira Anneli Nass: To what degree can photography and film seek to depict narrative "memory spaces"?

Mira Anneli Naß
(b. 1989 in Schwäbisch Hall, Germany) studied art history, literature, and theater studies in Munich and Florence, and the theory and history of photography at the Folkwang University of the Arts. She has been working as a research associate at the Institute of Art History and Aesthetic Theory at the University of Bremen since 2019. She is currently conducting research for her dissertation project dealing with artistic narratives of surveillance and power. Her recent publications include A Complete Negation of our Time. The Photo Book “Bäume” by Albert Renger- Patzsch and Ernst Jünger in PhotoResearcher 31 (2019) and Krupp’sche Panoramen als Sichtbarkeitsdispositiv. Visuelle Strategien der Narration von (industrieller) Macht in kritische berichte 4 (2018). Mira Anneli Naß lives and works in Bremen.


An expert panel, comprising Ann-Christin Bertrand (curator, C/O Berlin Foundation), Milena Carstens (head photography editor, ZEITmagazin), Joachim Naudts (curator, Fotomuseum Antwerpen), Stefanie Moshammer (2018 winner of the C/O Berlin Talent Award), and Thomas Seelig (curator, photography collection of Museum Folkwang, Essen) has selected four further artists — Axel Braun (Germany), Jan Hoek (Netherlands), Camille Lévêque (France), and Luo Yang (China) — for the Shortlist. C/O Berlin looks forward to introducing the work of these artists in the autumn issue of the C/O Berlin Newspaper, and online as part of C/O Berlin’s cooperation with Der Greif

Die Jury Mitglieder sitzen um einen Tisch und diskutieren gemeinsam
The jury on search for the C/O Berlin Talent Award 2019: Stefanie Moshammer, Dr. Kathrin Schönegg, Milena Carstens , Ann-Christin Bertrand, Joachim Naudts and Thomas Seelig
Axel Braun, Die Technik muss grausam sein, wenn sie sich durchsetzen will, Diga del Vajont, 2011 © Axel Braun

Axel Braun
With the works in his series Disturbed Harmonies (2011–2018), German artist Axel Braun (b. 1983, Düsseldorf) documents the dangerous momentum of change underway on earth in the Anthropocene, the epoch in which human beings have become one of the most important factors affecting biological, geological, and atmospheric processes. In his photographs, videos, and sound installations, Braun draws on diverse sources, from activists’ protests to biological research materials, and touches on themes ranging from energy use and conservation to economic and social interests. His works are artistic case studies on the industrial landscape and visualizations of a constantly growing technosphere, of human-created monuments, and of the associated social processes and changes underway in the world. The places that appear in Braun’s photographs are modern natural and agricultural landscapes wedged between suburban and metropolitan areas. His pictures are cool, objective, almost scientific—but at the same time, they seem mystical, mysterious, melancholy, poetic. Never does a human beings appear in the picture; only the human impact on nature. Disturbed Harmonies are pictures of utopia and dystopia. Axel Braun holds up a mirror to the viewer, and asks—without judgment, but with a critical attitude: Is there a way back? What responsibility do human beings have for the earth?

Axel Braun, Noxious Interference, Białowieża, 2017 © Axel Braun

Jan Hoek
The series Sistaaz of the Castle (2015/16) is an ongoing project by Dutch artist Jan Hoek (b. 1984, Netherlands) in collaboration with designer Duran Lantink and a group of transgender sex workers from Cape Town. Flavina, Sulaiga, Coco, Celine Dion, Cleopatra, Joan Collins, and Gabby are the fabulous Sistaaz and proud protagonists of the photographs. In fantastical settings, wearing outfits they have created themselves, the trans women and men give expression to their dreams and desires, and Hoek playfully explores the limits of what can be told and depicted using the tools of documentary photography. The work of Jan Hoek is driven by deep social interest and political engagement. Minorities in Africa and Asia who are unseen by society, homeless people, drug addicts, and people who seek work as amateur models or advertise their services online are frequently the central figures in his photographs. They stand in stark contrast to the glamourous world of fashion and the decadent lifestyles depicted in glossy magazines and on Instagram. Taking a critical and humorous approach, Jan Hoek addresses aspects of colonial history and important contemporary discourses on gender, consumption, and capitalism.

Joan Collins– dream picture in wedding dress, a.d.S. Sistaaz of the Castle © Jan Hoek . Courtesy Duran Lantink, SistaazHood and Jan Hoek
Jan Hoek, Cleopatra, a.d.S. Sistaaz of the Castle © Jan Hoek . Courtesy Duran Lantink, SistaazHood and Jan Hoek
Camille Levêque, Family Photo, Detail from Sanahin‘s Church © Camille Levêque

Camille Lévêque
Camille Lévêque (b. 1985, France)  is French with Armenian roots. We are our Mountains is the outcome of an artistic project she has been working on since 2015, exploring these roots together with her sister, Anna Lounguine. To Lévêque, the personal investigations, travels, and experiences are all part of the artistic process. Tracing the fault lines of her own identity, family history, homeland, and tradition, Lévêque interweaves collective memories and images of a nation with her own family photos. We are our Mountains (2018) tells of the dormant volcano Mount Ararat, the highest peak in eastern Anatolia with an elevation of 5,167 meters. It is located in present-day Turkey in a military security zone near the borders of Armenia and Iran. According to the Biblical myth, Noah’s ark came to rest there after the flood. It is known among Turks as the “Mountain of Pain”, among Kurds as the “Fiery Mountain”, and among Armenians as the “Mother of the Earth”. As a symbol and landmark that shapes the national identity of the third generation of the Armenian diaspora in Europe, Ararat remains a highly symbolic, political, and emotional place up to the present day.

Camille Levêque, Digital manipulation, Collage of a Family Photo with Elements of an Ancient Mosaic from a Church in Ani © Camille Levêque

Luo Yang
Gazing into the camera, Luo Yang’s Girls (2015—2017) look eccentric, nonconformist, self-confident and bold, but also pensive, shy, and vulnerable. These young women from China’s big cities are friends of the artist, who she observes, accompanies, and photographs in their everyday lives or in staged settings. In her pictures, Luo Yang (b. 1984, Shenyang, China) presents a young generation of women who were born in the 1980s in a country in upheaval. They are the children of a new People’s Republic, a China after the Cultural Revolution and the massacre at Tiananmen Square. The pictures celebrate a new freedom—and at the same time, take a critical look at life realities. Luo Yang’s documentary photography places her among the most important representatives of new contemporary photography in China.

Luo Yang, Wang Yanyun 2, 2016, a.d.S. GIRLS © Luo Yang
Luo Yang, Ge Lai Chuo Mao, 2017, a.d.S. GIRLS © Luo Yang