The four shortlisted nominees for the Preis der Nationalgalerie—Germany’s most prestigious museum art award, which gives a young artist an exhibition and a catalogue at a national institution—are showing their proposals in a joint exhibition at Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart in Berlin (until 14 January 2018).
The prize, launched in 2000 and presented every two years by the Nationalgalerie of Berlin State Museums, recognises artists under 40 who live and work in Germany. The artists on this year’s shortlist—the Argentinian artist Sol Calero, the Polish artist Agnieszka Polska, the US-born artist Jumana Manna and the Egyptian artist Iman Issa—are all based in Berlin, but bring their political and social experience outside of Germany into their practice.
For her work Amazonas Shopping Center, Sol Calero has created a participatory, multi-purpose installation that draws from Latin American cultural identity. A salon where visitors can get their nails and hair done, a currency exchange, a salsa dance studio that will host scheduled performances and a cyber café all have a colourful and over-the top kitschy aesthetic.
In the adjacent room, two hypnotic and hyper-artificial digital videos by Agnieszka Polska reflect on the state of today’s world—and possible environmental catastrophe—through childlike talking avatars of the sun and the earth, presented opposite each other. The videos combine unsettling narratives with moments of comic relief.
The work of Jumana Manna, who was born in the US but grew up in Israel as a Palestinian, often addresses urgent political concerns from a personal perspective. In her proposal, she presents her film A Magical Sustance Flows Into Me, which was driven by her research into a German-Jewish ethnomusicologist whose life work serves as an allegory—or a satire—of the artist’s own practice. Amorphous sculptures are presented alongside the film.
Iman Issa, who works in multiple disciplines including photography, video, text and sculpture, is the only artist who did not include a video component in her presentation. For her prize entry, Issa has remodelled art historical, scientific and archaeological artefacts into sculptures in her immaculately-crafted, conceptual style. She has paired the works, which depict subjects such as an epigraphic star chart, a minaret and a commemorative scarab, with modified museum wall labels that leave the viewers with more questions than answers.
The winner of the 2017 Preis der Nationalgalerie will be announced on 20 October 2017, and will be given a solo exhibition at the Hamburger Bahnhof in 2018.