As in previous years, the annual Kunsthalle Wien Prize is awarded in cooperation with the two art universities in Vienna. Each year, the juries review ca. one hundred graduation projects in the fields of visual and media art. Given the closure of the universities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the jury awarding the 2020 prize, having seen the final projects of the 2019/20 winter term in the original, had to examine the 2020 summer term projects based on digital documentation. Most of the jury’s meetings in June and July were held as video conferences.
Despite the difficult circumstances in which the graduates completed their studies, numerous diploma and master’s projects once again met the highest standards of quality. That is why the jury’s two committees have agreed that, in a change from previous practice, they will from now on also publicly identify all shortlisted artists and invite them to approach individual members of the jury for personal exchange.
Award-winning graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna: Abiona Esther Ojo
Abiona Esther Ojo’s profound installation Die Magie steckt in jeder Strähne (There’s Magic in Every Strand) unfolds the social and political implications of Black hair through the lens of cultural history, but from a very personal perspective. Combining sculptural, analog-reproductive, and digital media, she deftly connects the practice of creating Afro hairstyles, which is bound up with knowledge, collective memories, rituals, and intimate processes, to general questions of identity and representation—from the message as a signal of protest to a well-established code of community membership. The jury believes the work to be an outstanding artistic and poetic contribution to the cultural sociology of issues that are currently a focus of international debate.
Abiona Esther Ojo (b. Hellmonsödt, Austria, 1992, lives in Vienna) studied Sculpture and Spatial Strategies with Monica Bonvicini and Stefanie Seibold at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and graduated in 2020 with a project supervised by Iman Issa.
The following graduates of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna’s Institute for Fine Arts were also on the shortlist for the award: Julia Goodman, Hyo Lee, Igor Ripak, and Myles Starr. In recognition of the quality of their diploma or master’s projects, their names will be included in all publications associated with the 2020 Kunsthalle Wien Prize.
Award-winning graduate of the University of Applied Arts Vienna: Huda Takriti
Huda Takriti’s perfectly executed multimedia installation of cities and private living rooms interweaves factual and fictional elements, private and collective archives, analog and digital imageries to create a polyphonic narrative that operates as a kind of political unconscious. Her endeavour to unravel the complexity of migration and diaspora stories, geopolitical realities, and projections of identity without breaking it down to identity politics and the search for one “truth” convinced the jury.
Huda Takriti (b. Damascus, Syria, 1990, lives in Vienna and Damascus) studied graphic art and painting at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus. In 2020, she completed the master’s program in TransArts at the University of Applied Arts Vienna with a project supervised by Roman Pfeffer and Kathrin Rhomberg.
The following graduates of the University of Applied Arts Vienna’s Institute for Fine Arts and Media Art were also on the shortlist for the award: Sara-Lisa Bals, Anastasia Jermolaewa, and Sebastian Supanz. In recognition of the quality of their diploma or master’s projects, their names will be included in all publications associated with the 2020 Kunsthalle Wien Prize.
Exhibition and award
Each prizewinning artist’s exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue containing an interview with the artist, essays by members of the jury, and a plate section.
As in previous years, the cash award of € 3,000 for the prizewinning graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna is generously provided by DekoTrend GmbH. After several years in which the cash award for the graduate of the University of Applied Arts Vienna was contributed by HS art service austria, the art historians and collectors Gertraud and Dieter Bogner have generously agreed to fund this year’s award. Kunsthalle Wien is exceptionally pleased by this new collaborative relationship, which is testament to the high regard in which internationally recognized art experts hold the Kunsthalle Wien Prize.
Curator: Lucas Gehrmann