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Mika Rottenberg. Photo: Jessica Chou.

Mika Rottenberg Wins 2019 Kurt Schwitters Prize

The Argentinian artist Mika Rottenberg has been named the winner of the 2019 Kurt Schwitters Prize, a biennial award that recognizes artists who have made a significant contribution to contemporary art. Founded in 1982 and administered by the Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung, the prize honors the legacy of the late German painter Kurt Schwitters, who passed away in 1948. Rottenberg will receive $28,600 and will stage an exhibition at the Sprengel Museum in Hannover, Germany.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1976 and currently living in New York, Rottenberg is best known for her surreal video installations, which frequently combine documentary and fictional narratives and depict women engaged in absurdist processes of production, such as the manufacturing of cheese made from the milk of women’s extremely long hair (Cheese, 2008); and cultured pearls (NoNoseKnows, 2015).

The prize jury comprised Reinhard Spieler, director of the Sprengel Museum; Ralf Beil, director of the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany; Laurent Le Bon, director of the Musée Picasso in Paris; Massimiliano Gioni, artistic director of the New Museum in New York; and Susanne Pfeffer, director of the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt.

In a joint statement, the jury members said: “The imaginative video works and installations by Mika Rottenberg intertwine documentary with fiction in surreal allegories of today’s life. Their ingenious visual narratives illuminate the interconnected relationships between economies, geographic areas, forms of work, and added value. . . . In her interdisciplinary-experimental artistic approach and in the exploration of the interweaving of the machine and the body, the sensitivity of groundbreaking artist Kurt Schwitters resounds. This makes her the ideal candidate for the Kurt Schwitters Prize.”

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