Berlin Art Prize

Berlin Art Prize, Trophy by Yael Bartana, 2015

The Berlin Art Prize team—Leonie Huber, Sophie Jung, Zoë Claire Miller, and Alicia Reuter—answer our questionnaire.

What are you working on at the moment?

Alicia Reuter: Right now I’m working on the next edition of the Berlin Art Prize, in addition to my work as a senior editor at Art Basel. I’m also finishing up the first part of a project that looks at sustainability for art and culture professionals who live and work in Berlin.

Sophie Jung: On different things at once. Most have to do with text, journalism, and deadlines.

Leonie Huber: In addition to work I’m doing for the Berlin Art Prize, I’m also preparing the second issue of ›dis/claim‹, an online magazine I initiated earlier this year with the aim of creating a platform for analyses and practices of text production in contemporary art.

Zoë Claire Miller: I’m working on sculptures for an exhibition at Museion Bolzano called ›Kingdom of the Ill‹, and on overcoming patriarchy and capitalism.

What are you reading or listening to right now?

AR: I’m on a Sisyphus mission, trying to read all the back issues of ›The New Yorker‹ magazine. I recently finished ›New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future‹ by James Bridle—a fascinating look at the technology all around us. I’ve also been slowly working my way through ›On Language‹ by Noam Chomsky. Some of the essays in it date back to 1976, but they are still absolutely relevant in the way they explore how language shapes the world around us. Next up is ›How to Blow Up a Pipeline‹, Andreas Malm’s manifesto on climate change.

SJ: ›Die Palette‹ by Hubert Fichte. It’s about drinking in Hamburg and drifting between different personalities. And I’ve got a sudden interest in jazz, especially Mary Halvorson’s.

LH: As I answer these questions I’m listening to ›Hoping for Love‹, an album by Isabelle Antena. On my bedside table is ›Fireflies in the Dark: Letters on Ambiguities‹ by Jackie Grassmann and Sarah Lehnerer, excerpts of an ongoing letter exchange in which the two artists discuss and rehearse strategies of shared authorship.

ZCM: I’m reading Sara Ahmed’s ›The Promise of Happiness‹ and listening to Michelle Gurevich. One thing I find interesting about both of them is their rejection and analysis of the neoliberal cult of happiness.

What would you do if you didn’t work in the arts/if you weren’t an artist?

AR: Having worked in the arts for over 25 years now, I can’t even picture a life like that.

SJ: Politics or gardening.

ZCM: +1—but I already do both, lol.

LH: It’s a very real question for me now that I’ve completed my studies. Fortunately, I’ve yet to be in a position of having to answer it.

Do you have a favourite building?

AR: The pink tube (Circulation Tank 2) in Berlin Tiergarten. It is a Technical University of Berlin research facility and is absolutely fascinating from the outside. I can only imagine what the inside looks like.

SJ: True, Ludwig Leo’s Circulation Tank 2 is great. So is Bernhard Hermkes’ building for the TU’s architecture faculty—including its Piranesi-esque staircase with a panoramic view of Moabit.

LH: I always have to think of Bruce Nauman’s 1984 installation ›Room with My Soul Left Out, Room That Does Not Care‹ at the end of the Rieckhallen at Hamburger Bahnhof—Museum für Gegenwart—Berlin. The emptiness of the space is even more striking since real estate investors built on all the undeveloped properties in the area.

ZCM: Those dwellings in the Falanga Forest on Ischia, chiselled into volcanic tuff rocks, furniture and all—a habitable interior without a built exterior that takes the descriptor ›solid‹ as a furniture quality concept really, really seriously.

What animal would you like to be?

SJ: A pelican. Flying, hanging out with the others on warm beaches and being a sort of myth.

ZCM: A marine iguana. Also hanging out on beaches, but cuddling a lot due to being ectothermic, sneezing out excess salt, looking like Godzilla, having no natural enemies, resolving all social conflicts with energetic head-nodding.

LH: I wouldn’t want to be an animal—the idea of not being able to speak scares me.

Who would you like to meet?

SJ: I would have liked to have met David Bowie because he is such a total pop star. I would also have liked to have run into Georges Perec at a motorway rest area and restaurant, where we might have chatted about tubes of mustard—although of course it would have been about the world and not about tubes of mustard.

ZCM: I’d like to get to know all the people who are going to implement a 100% inheritance tax. I want to ask them how I can help.

Do you have a daily ritual?

AR: Running. It clears my head and I can see what’s really happening in the city.

LH: In the morning, I drink coffee and read for an hour before the caffeine drives me to my desk or out of the house. It helps me stop and think for a moment before work.

SJ: Trying to get up before my children and not managing to do so. That’s where black coffee comes in handy.
ZCM: No.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve had to admit to yourself?

AR: I think we all do the best we can with the information we have at the time. I have no regrets.

SJ: Funny, I can’t answer that question at all. I’ve definitely made a lot of little mistakes, and still things end up moving along in the right direction. Maybe I shouldn’t have studied economics.

LH: Thinking I had to make pragmatic decisions in situations that called for conversations and care.

ZCM: Procrastination, time and again.

What accessory or object could you not be without?

AR: I always have something to read with me. Otherwise I’d say my headphones, for listening to music and podcasts.

SJ: I used to leave the house with nothing more than my debit card and organ donor card in my pocket. Now that I have two children, there’s a whole array of accessories and things I can’t do without.

LH: I rarely leave the house without a notebook and a pen. It’s important to me to be able to put my phone down and write by hand.

ZCM: Asthma inhaler.

What do you do when the work is done?

AR: Follow-up work.

SJ: If only it were done. Listening to courtyard sounds from the balcony.

LH: I really enjoy talking about a project with friends and colleagues after it’s finished. Engaging with people through one’s work is one of my big motivations for working in the arts.

ZCM: Catch up on sleep.

Award Ceremony
at Acud Club Berlin
15 SEP 2022, 9 pm

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