C/O Berlin Talent Award 2020
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.
(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.
(*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 America, Hyperallergic, Haunt Journal of Art, Frieze, Another Gaze, Mousse, Art Review, and Spike Art Magazine. Emily Watlington lives in New York.
The jury of experts for the category Artistic Photography, Dr. Eva-Maria Fahrner-Tutsek (Chairperson of the Board, Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung, Munich), Florian Ebner (Head of the Photography Department, Centre Pompidou, Paris), Michael Mack (publisher and founder, Mack Books, London), Taiyo Onorato (artist, Zurich and Bovec, Slovenia), Dr. Kathrin Schönegg (curator, C/O Berlin), and Trine Skraastad (photo editor for magazines including Dummy, Fluter, and Die Dame, Berlin), nominated the winner and the four artists for this year‘s shortlist. The works of the shortlist candidates will be featured in the C/O Berlin Newspaper and presented in cooperation with Der Greif online. The expert jury selected Anna Ehrenstein‘s project Tools for Conviviality for its convincing use, exploration, and critique of new digital forms. In this work, the artist reflects on the media of our time and explores the socio-cultural consequences of digitalization in a global context with a humorous tone. Ehrenstein’s project, which was created in Senegal, replaces the documentary outside perspective with a method of collective research in a foreign place. It incorporates local creatives who reflect, refract, and challenge the European perspective on technologies and life concepts in the West African region. Tools for Conviviality was developed in collaboration with Awa Seck, Donkafele, Lydia Likibi, Saliou Ba, and Nyamwathi Gichau.
Christina Töpfer (Editor-in-Chief, Camera Austria) and Kathrin Schönegg (Curator, C/O Berlin) selected art historian Emily Watlington from 32 international entries at a jury meeting for the category Theory in April 2020. Watlington’s work impressed the jury with its expertise, theoretical depth, and analytical yet accessible style. The author’s previous work has addressed the topics of digital culture and circulation, Internet feminism, and geopolitical power structures between West and East. She thus represents the ideal scholarly reflection of this year’s award-winning artwork.
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.
“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.
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’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.