The Henrike Grohs Art Award
The Henrike Grohs Art Award is a biennial prize dedicated to artists who are living and working in Africa and practicing in the field of visual arts. It recognises the lifetime achievements of the former Head of the Goethe-Institut in Abidjan, Henrike Grohs, who was killed on March 13, 2016 in a terrorist attack in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire.
The prize “aims at strengthening artists and encouraging them in their quest for a world of togetherness and dialogue”, said jury members Koyo Kouoh (Artistic Director, RAW Material Company, Dakar), Laurence Bonvin (artist and representative of the Grohs family, Berlin), Raphael Chikukwa (Chief Curator, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare) and Simon Njami (Curator, Paris).
Who was Henrike Grohs?
Henrike Grohs died on March 13, 2016 in a terrorist attack in Côte d’Ivoire along with seventeen other people. She studied ethnology and was Head of the Goethe-Institut in Abidjan from 2013 to her death. In 2009, she was appointed Advisor on Culture and Development at the Goethe-Institut in South Africa. Henrike Grohs was 51 at the time of her passing.
The Goethe-Institut is Germany’s cultural institute, active worldwide. Its mandate is to promote the study of German abroad and to encourage international cultural exchange. Today it is represented in 98 countries and has some 3,300 employees. It contributes widely to the promotion of artists, ideas and works.
Mission statement by the jury
“The Henrike Grohs Art Award is established as an answer to all those who think that we cannot live together in a world where sharing would be the main aim. Where borders would have no meaning and where humanity would be the only matter to fight for – that is humanity as a whole, as something that cannot be destroyed and that remains untouched. The message is clear: we shall not surrender. We shall, as Henrike did, stand for what we believe in, without any compromise.
The Henrike Grohs Art Award aims at strengthening artists and encouraging them in their quest for a world of togetherness and dialogue. Art knows neither borders nor religion. It is the very expression of that flame that keeps us going, from North to South and East to West. It is the best expression of our unbreakable faith in our humanity.”
About the shortlisted artists
Em’kal Eyongakpa is an intermedia artist who approaches the experienced, the unknown, as well as collective histories through a ritual use of repetition and transformation. His recent ideas draw from indigenous knowledge systems and aesthetics, ethnobotany, applied mycology as well as technology.
Georgina Maxim’s work combines weaving, stitch work and the utilisation of found textiles creating objects that evade definition. The dresses are deconstructed, and at times reconstructed to find new ways of giving tribute to and reflection upon the person that owned the original garment.
In Makouvia Kokou Ferdinand’s sculptural and performance work, he plays with orders and mixes memories, materials and cultural references. Building on traditional Mina culture, his gaze on contemporary society is unique, sometimes ironic and often moving.
The award will be awarded biennially to an artist or an arts collective practicing in the
field of visual arts. Artistic quality is the most important criteria for the award. Collaborative partnership, imparting knowledge to other artists and social engagement are decisive elements for recognition.
The winner will be announced on March 6 and awarded on March 13 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.