The Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst am Museum Ludwig is awarding the Wolfgang Hahn Prize Cologne for 2012 to Danish-born artist Henrik Olesen (born 1967).
The jury - consisting of guest jurors Chus Martínez, departmental head and member of the core agent group dOCUMENTA (13), Kasper König, director of Museum Ludwig, as well as committee members Enno Scholma (president), Gabriele Bierbaum, Sabine DuMont Schütte and Robert Müller-Grünow - has chosen Henrik Olesen in accordance with the statutes of the Wolfgang Hahn Prize Cologne from the over 50 nominations submitted by the members.
Chus Martínez gave the reasons for their choice: "It is not Henrik Olesen's goal as such to produce a work with a clear-cut content. He develops rather an individual syntax and form of presentation by breaking up set structures that are dictated by family and cultural membership. With the award of the prize to Henrik Olesen, the jury is honouring a form of visual culture whose approach to the production and use of images - as well as to the subject of gender and questions about the cultural context - links it in a novel way with the collection at Museum Ludwig"
Thanks to the annual donations made by its members, the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst has been able to purchase the multi-piece installation Mr. Knife and Mrs. Fork from 2009.
This installation is a wide-ranging complex of works which set up various interrelations with one another and focus in subtle and intricate ways on the daddy-mummy-self system. Henrik Olesen performs at times quite minimal interventions in the space (see "Mr. Knife & Mrs. Fork - Entrance") using installative means and materials taken from everyday life and hardware stores. As for instance the two wooden laths that he has turned into the portraits of the "mother" and "father", and a third black-painted lath representing the "angle" - the child.
These three sculptures-cum-portraits are further juxtaposed with a long branch that has grown naturally but been stripped of its twigs and leaves. The difference between manufactured and natural materials is hard to overlook here, because the branch presents itself quite pointedly as the result of its own "self-production".
Likewise the 30-part collage "Papa-Mama-Ich" tackles questions of reproduction, self-creation and identity. Olesen has taken pages from the British newspaper The Daily Mail and blanked out photos, marked or deleted text passages, and overprinted them with snatches of texts by Antonin Artaud, Allen Ginsberg, Herman Melville, Michel Foucault and others in various fonts. "I hate to seem inquisitive but could you kindly tell me who I am" has for instance been printed in letters taken from a baroque "body alphabet" on a page from the financial section of the Daily Mail.
With the Wolfgang Hahn Prize Cologne, the Gesellschaft für Moderne Kunst honours the creative output of contemporary artists and buys works from them for Museum Ludwig. This purchase prize is dedicated to the memory of Wolfgang Hahn (1924 - 1987), chief conservator and painting restorer at Wallraf Richartz Museum / Museum Ludwig and one of Cologne's most far-sighted collectors.
The main stipulations for the award of the prize are that the artist's work has undergone rigorous ongoing development and has met with international acclaim in professional circles, and that his or her oeuvre is not yet adequately represented at Museum Ludwig but is important for the advancement of the collection. The budget for the prize amounts to a maximum of 100,000 euros per annum.
The Wolfgang Hahn Prize will be awarded in 2012 for the 18th time in succession.