C/O Berlin Talent Award 2020

Anna Ehrenstein / Emily Watlington
Franceline II, 2019 © Anna Ehrenstein
Anna Ehrenstein . Tools for Conviviality . C/O Berlin Talent Award 2020, C/O Berlin, 2021, installation view © David von Becker

C/O Berlin is delighted to award this year‘s C/O Berlin Talent Award in the category Artistic Photography to the German-Albanian multimedia artist Anna Ehrenstein. Her award-winning work Tools for Conviviality is presented in a solo exhibition from March, 27 to June, 5 2021 at C/O Berlin in the Amerika Haus, Hardenbergstraße 22-24, 10623 Berlin.

The C/O Berlin Talent Award 2020 in the category of Theory goes to US author Emily Watlington. She is writing the first art theoretical essay on the work Tools for Conviviality by Ehrenstein. Watlington’s essay and an interview with the artist are presented in a monograph published by C/O Berlin with Spector Books on the occasion of the artist’s solo exhibition.

The four artists Laura Ben Hayoun (FR), Esther Hovers (NL), Alexander Rosenkranz (DE) and Alina Schmuch (DE) are nominated for the Shortlist 2020. 


Anna Ehrenstein
(b. 1993 AL/DE) explores the exchange between human and object in the digital age. She studied photography and media art at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Dortmund and completed a postgraduate program in media art at the Academy of Media Arts with Mischa Kuball and Julia Scher. Her work has been shown in international group exhibitions including Format Situations at Fotomuseum Winterthur, CH, (2019), the photo festival Les Recontres d‘Arles (2018), and the Triennial of Photography in Hamburg (2018). C/O Berlin will present her first institutional solo exhibition. Ehrenstein has been nominated for various awards and is currently working on a research project in Bogota, Colombia, on a DAAD grant. Anna Ehrenstein lives in Berlin, Cologne, and Tirana.

Anna Ehrenstein . Tools for Conviviality . C/O Berlin Talent Award 2020, C/O Berlin, 2021, installation view © David von Becker
Zitat Watlington: "Photography is inherently transactional: That's why we say we TOOK someone's photograph."

Emily Watlington
(*1993, USA) writes about contemporary media art and feminist ethics. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art history (BFA) and a master of science in architecture studies (SMArchS) in the History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art (HTC) program at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Watlington spent 2018/2019 in Berlin as the holder of a Fulbright Fellowship for Journalism and is currently working as an Assistant Editor at Art in America. Her essays have been published in exhibition catalogues, anthologies, magazines, and journals including Art in AmericaHyperallergic, Haunt Journal of Art, Frieze, Another Gaze, Mousse, Art Review, and Spike Art Magazine. Emily Watlington lives in New York. 

Die Jury 2020: Taiyo Onorato, Florian Ebner, Michael Mack, Dr. Kathrin Schönegg, Trine Skraastad
Die Jury 2020: Taiyo Onorato, Florian Ebner, Michael Mack, Dr. Kathrin Schönegg, Trine Skraastad © Carolin Bollig

Die Expertenjury für die Kategorie Künstlerische Fotografie, Dr. Eva-Maria Fahrner-Tutsek (Vorstandsvorsitzende, Alexander Tutsek–Stiftung, München), Florian Ebner (Leiter der Abteilung Fotografie, Centre Pompidou, Paris), Michael Mack (Verleger und Gründer, Mack Books, London), Taiyo Onorato (Künstler, Zürich und Bovec, Slovenien), Dr. Kathrin Schönegg (Kuratorin, C/O Berlin) und Trine Skraastad (Bildredakteurin, u. a. bei Dummy, Fluter, Die Dame, Berlin) hat die diesjährige Gewinnerin Anna Ehrenstein und die Shortlist nominiert. Die Arbeiten der Shortlistkandidat*innen werden in der C/O Berlin Zeitung vorgestellt und in Kooperation mit Der Greif online präsentiert. Anna Ehrensteins Projekt Tools for Conviviality hat die Expertenjury durch die Verwendung, Thematisierung und Kritisierung neuer digitaler Formen überzeugt. Die Künstlerin reflektiert in ihrem Werk die Medien unserer Zeit und problematisiert soziokulturelle Folgen der Digitalisierung im globalen Kontext mit großer Leichtigkeit. Mit ihrem im Senegal entstandenen Projekt rückt Ehrenstein an die Stelle des dokumentarischen Blicks von Außen eine Methode der kollektiven Recherche am fremden Ort. Lokale Kreative werden eingebunden und multiplizieren die europäische Perspektive auf Technologien und Lebensentwürfe im westafrikanischen Raum. Tools for Conviviality entstand in Zusammenarbeit mit Awa Seck, Donkafele, Lydia Likibi, Saliou Ba, Nyamwathi Gichau.

Christina Töpfer (Chefredakteurin, Camera Austria) und Dr. Kathrin Schönegg (Kuratorin, C/O Berlin) haben in ihrer Jurysitzung für die Katergorie Theorie im April 2020 die Kunsthistorikerin Emily Watlington aus 32 internationalen Einsendungen ausgewählt. Watlingtons eingereichte Texte haben durch ihre Kennerschaft, theoretische Tiefe sowie den analytischen und gleichzeitig gut zugänglichen Stil überzeugt. In ihren bisherigen Arbeiten setzte sich die Autorin mit den Themen Digitalität und Zirkulation, Netz-Feminismus und geopolitische Machtstrukturen zwischen Westen und Osten auseinander. Sie bildet so den idealen wissenschaftlichen Spiegel zur diesjährig ausgezeichneten künstlerischen Arbeit.

C/O Berlin Talent Award 2020 Theorist-Jury aus Christina Töpfer und Dr. Kathrin Schönegg © C/O Berlin Foundation
Pied-noir leaving Algéria – Michel Ben Hayoun – Valence, Décember 2015, 2015 © Laura Ben Hayoun

Laura Ben Hayoun
An intercultural (family) history is at the center of Laura Ben Hayoun’s piece “Just one spark, and everything could explode.” The second-generation Algerian-French artist (b. 1984, FR) uses reenactment with her family and found footage to reflect on colonialism, racism, torture, and terrorism. Ben Hayoun has created a highly impressive investigative work, one prompted by personal ties even if not experienced first-hand, with a narrative assembled and brought to life using online images, archives, and film.

Esther Hovers
“Traveling Salesman” by Hovers (b. 1991, NL) went straight onto our shortlist. We were won over by its simple and clever concept, which tells the story of a walk and the logistical issue facing a traveling salesman who needs to figure out the shortest route through a set of cities, if each city needs to be visited just once before returning to the starting point. “Traveling Salesman” is a poetic reflection on the interplay between planning and the unpredictability of urban spaces.

Traveling Salesman, 2018–2019 © Esther Hovers
City Cut Off, Discovery (Zurich), 2019 © Alexander Rosenkranz
City Cut Off, Discovery (Zurich), 2019 © Alexander Rosenkranz

Alexander Rosenkranz
The piece “City Cut Off” by Rosenkranz (b. 1987, DE) captivated us thanks to its simple yet highly effective play with the medium of photography: using a camera, photo lab, and a photocopier, the artist cut up analogue city photographs along the horizon line before almost imperceptibly recombining them. What does it say about twenty-first century urban planning and civil engineering when different pictures of a city can be collaged together in any number of ways without creating noticeable visual discontinuities? The work is convincing, first, as a critique of architecture and social living space in the urban metropolis, and second, in its contemporary use of the traditional medium of montage, exposing the much-vaunted documentary character of the medium as a lie, both the past and present.

Alina Schmuch
Alina Schmuch’s “Interior” examines the water infrastructure in the Ruhr area and queries the ways in which people and technology influence one another. Drawing on archival materials and recent images taken by robots, the artist (b. 1987, DE) weaves a narrative of the network of waterways, which moves between the visible, the invisible, and the hidden. With her interest in the way the documentary quality of images has changed in our present day, Schmuch’s work fits perfectly with the theme for the 2020 C/O Berlin Talent Award.

Interior, Fraunhofer Institut, 2019 © Alina Schmuch
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