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Winners of 2018 Berlin Art Prize Announced

Monika Grabuschnigg, Alanna Lynch, and Doireann O’Malley have been named the winners of the fifth edition of the Berlin Art Prize. They will each be awarded a cash prize and a residency in Marrakech, Morocco. The jury also selected Ana Alenso as an honorable mention.

Born in Austria in 1987, Grabuschnigg completed her master’s in fine arts at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and studied as an exchange student at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem. Grabuschnigg is known for her large clay and resin sculptures that address questions of identity, cultural affiliation, love, and desire, such as in her series “What I Shall Swear By,” 2017, which explores the way Hollywood and the music industry convey intimacy and sexuality.

Recognized for her work commenting on the human condition and notions of stigma, cultural hierarchy, and race, Lynch often works with living organisms and biological materials in her practice. Her works on display in the prize exhibition include the installation Vulnerable and Resistant, 2018, a mock laboratory that presents photographs of dead flies and other insects, and A Show of Strength, 2015, which features a glass container filled with the artist’s urine hanging from a rope.

A graduate of Ireland’s Limerick School of Art and Design, O’Malley has been living in Berlin for the past ten years and has upcoming exhibitions in Vienna and Mexico City. She is known for her film series, “Prototypes,” which unites transgender studies, science fiction, biopolitics, psychoanalysis, artificial intelligence, and experimental sound. The series examines the act of transitioning from one gender to another through medical, psychiatric, and linguistic lenses.

Grabuschnigg’s, Lynch’s, and O’Malley’s works, in addition to those of the prize’s six nominees, were on view at the Shelf, a project space in Berlin’s Kreuzberg neighborhood, from September 1 until September 28. During this period, an extensive program of discussions, workshops, and performances took place. The venue, a former car-rental agency, is expected to be demolished as part of an ongoing urban development project. The organizers of the prize and the participating artists expressed concern over the loss of the arts space and released a statement criticizing the city for pushing the project. An excerpt of their text reads: “The consequences of urban development that does not fulfill the needs of the residents affect all of us.”

Created in 2013, the Berlin Art Prize is an annual independent award that celebrates the work of notable artists working in Berlin’s art scene. The 2018 prize jury consisted of curator Pauline Doutreluingne, critic and curator Övül Ö. Durmușoǧlu, theorist and critic Philipp Ekardt, artist and musician Michaela Melián, and artist Johannes Paul Raether. Each edition’s trophy is designed by a Berlin-based artist; Zuzanna Czebatul was invited to make this year’s award.