Exhibition: Preis der Nationalgalerie 2017 at Hamburger Bahnhof

Jumana Manna, Sol Calero, Iman Issa, Agnieszka Polska (f. l. t. r.) | © David von Becker

Hamburger Bahnhof is showing four artistic positions in the running for the Preis der Nationalgalerie until January 14th

The renowned Preis der Nationalgalerie honors young artistic positions in contemporary art and is being awarded for the ninth time. From now until the 14th of January, 2018, finalists Sol Calero, Iman Issa, Jumana Manna, and Agnieszka Polska will take part in a group exhibition within the extensive halls of Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof. The winner has been announced on October 20th: Agnieszka Polska. She will present a solo exhibition in one of the National Gallery’s buildings the following year, accompanied by a publication. Since 2000, the prize has offered artists under 40 years of age who are living and working in Germany the unique opportunity to present their work to a wide audience in the institution of their choice. Previous prize winners include Anne Imhof, Monica Bonvicini, Omer Fast, and Cyprien Gaillard – all of whom have since become firmly established in the international art scene.

At first glance, the works by this year’s finalists appear very different from each other. However, they are united by decidedly political and societal dimensions. In this context, their feminine point of view is not decidedly feminine, which makes their positions all the more universal.


Sol Calero | Amazonas Shopping Center, 2017 Installationsansicht Hamburger Bahnhof | ©Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Trevor GoodTrevor / Courtesy Courtesy the artist, Laura Bartlett Gallery, London

Sol Calero continues to take on neutral spaces in her work, transforming them into artificial, social environments. The Latin American and tropical background of this Berlin-based artist serves as material for her work, which she then slaps with all of its loud colors onto walls, interiors, and objects. By participating in brashly “Caribbean” environments such as currency exchange offices, internet cafes, and beauty salons, the viewer’s cultural stereotypes and trepidations are exposed and actively changed. At Hamburger Bahnhof, she has now installed her flamboyant Amazonas Shopping Center, which leaves nothing to be desired in terms of clichéd consumer identity.


Iman Issa | Heritage Studies, 2015-2017Verschiedene MaterialienInstallationsansicht Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin | © Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jan Windszus / Courtesy the artist and carlier | gebauer

Iman Issa, in contrast, follows a completely reduced visual aesthetic. This Cairo-born artist takes on the resolute power of materials in art history with Heritage Studies. Her minimalistic objects lay mindlessly scattered across the museum floor, nothing more than huge stumbling blocks. Through accompanying texts, they grow into their own cultural assets and monuments following historical templates. For Issa, language serves as a catalyst of meaning through which she calls into question the structures of cultural and political representation, as well as colonization.


Jumana Manna | Installationsansicht Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin | ©Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Trevor Good / Courtesy the artist & CRG Gallery, New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2017

Jumana Manna’s filmic contribution sets its sights on the musical culture of ethnic groups living in Jerusalem, which is displacing the religious divide. Manna continually exposes the protagonists of her works to political and social systems. Interaction with autobiographical and archival material, morals, and humor as well as draped sculptural artefacts, the artist looks at behavioral patterns and identity within a well thought out dramatic composition.


Agnieszka Polska | What the Sun Has Seen (Version II), 2017HD-AnimationInstallationsansicht | Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin | © Nationalgalerie – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jan Windszus / Courtesy Zak Branicka Galerie, Berlin and OVERDUIN & CO., LA

Through her cartoon-based works and films, Agnieszka Polska reminds us that the perception of history always takes place from a present collective and personal memory. She collages images, photographs, and texts from the internet into two interrelated films that animate stories about an encountered present day.

With individually characteristic styles, these four artists have achieved revealing works that deal with historical and cultural heritage and that are as unconventional as they are meticulous. Culture interprets history, puts holes in it, and can unravel it, deconstruct it, and put it back together again. The four prize finalists reveal these processes within the exhibition, unroll narratives, comment, decline, and finally create a sphere in which discourses are initiated and advanced. These different approaches to the subject meet at Hamburger Bahnhof with a density that is completely aimed at the viewer.

Agnieszka Polska & Sandra Wollner |©offenblen.de

The Preis der Nationalgalerie will be presented at Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin until January 14th, 2018. The winner of this year’s prize, Agnieszka Polska, has been announced on the 20th of October. Sandra Wollner won the Förderpreis für Filmkunst for her work „Das unmögliche Bild“. Further information is available here.

Translation: Melissa Frost

Fashion, art, and pop culture are her cosmos; the written word, the material she uses to bring it all together. After studying in Leipzig, Lola Fröbe moved to Berlin in 2014. She works as a PR consultant and freelance journalist for publications such as L'Officiel, i-D, and Material Magazine.