Lawrence Abu Hamdan Awarded International Nam June Paik Award 2016

This year’s International Nam June Paik Award 2016 has gone to Lawrence Abu Hamdan. The International Media Art Award of the NRW Arts Foundation in collaboration with the Museum Folkwang, Essen Essen, presented the prize on 27.10.2016. For the eighth time running, at 7:00 pm on Thursday, 27th October 2016, the NRW Arts Foundation will be awarding its International and National Nam June Paik Awards, which carry cash prizes of € 25,000 and € 15,000 respectively. 

The awards will be presented by former Minister of State, Dr. Fritz Behrens, President of the NRW Arts Foundation and Bernd Neuendorf, State Secretary in the Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia. Lawrence Abu Hamdan (Beirut, Lebanon and London, UK), Trisha Baga (New York, USA), Neïl Beloufa (Paris, France) and Katja Novitskova (Amsterdam, Netherlands and Berlin, Germany) present current works in an exhibition, from which the winner of the of the International Media Award was selected. The award jury comprising Dara Birnbaum, artist (New York, USA), Dr. Penelope Curtis, Director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum (Lisbon, Portugal), Joanna Mytkowska, Director of the Museum of Modern Art (Warsaw, Poland), Rolf Quaghebeur, Director of the Argos Center for Art and Media (Brussels, Belgium) and Akram Zaatari, artist (Beirut, Lebanon) decided on the winners of the national and international categories on 27th October 2016. The jury has unanimously nominated Lawrence Abu Hamdan for the 2016 Nam June Paik Award with his installation earshot, 2016.

“In his installation he has created an open space in which we can focus with precision on his subject, its means of representation and on our own role as viewers. The topic of the representation of violence is of great contemporary relevance, and the artist encourages us to debate key moral issues in a different way.” The jury admired the way in which the work combined scientific analysis with a quiet emotional intensity. The nominees for the National Nam June Paik Award 2016 are Malte Bruns (Düsseldorf), Henning Fehr & Philipp Rühr (Cologne) and Walter Zurborg & Tamaki Watanabe (Goldenstedt). The cash prize carried by the National Award will enable the award winner to realize a new work, which will then be shown in the exhibition accompanying the Nam June Paik Award 2018. The National Price goes to Tamaki Watanabe & Walter Zurborg. Manuel Graf won the National Award in 2014 (this was hitherto known as the Newcomer Award) and is now exhibiting his work “Marbles”, 2016, at the Museum Folkwang as the museum’s guest. Named after the media art pioneer Nam June Paik, the competition was first held in 2002 at the NRWForum in Düsseldorf.

Following further venues in Dortmund, Cologne, Bochum and Krefeld, the NRW Arts Foundation has this year cooperated with the Museum Folkwang in Essen on both the organization and the presentation of the award. Amidst the high-calibre works of classical modernism from the Osthaus Collection the four short-listed candidates for the International Award are showing complex installations that could not be more different. For these exponents of what has become known as PostInternet Art, all of them born in the 1980s, the close interplay between reality and digitality has become part and parcel of their everyday perception of life. Former Minister of State, Dr. Fritz Behrens, President of the NRW Arts Foundation, stressed the fact that it is precisely thanks to the future-oriented Nam June Paik Award that the NRW Arts Foundation has a contributory part to play in the current media art discourse: “Contemporary art,” said Behrens during the award ceremony, “has long since set out to explore socio-technical hybridization and to prepare us for the new life beyond Modernism and Postmodernism.” “The name of the award – Nam June Paik Award – is a homage to this outstanding composer and pioneer of media art. It is a distinction that complements the manifold activities of our region in the field of media art. The National Award honours especially the work of young artists and places them in an international context. My heartfelt congratulations go to Lawrence Abu Hamdan,” said Bernd Neuendorf, NRW Secretary of State for Culture, during the award ceremony. Dr. Tobia Bezzola, Director of the Museum Follkwang in Essen, says: “The Museum Folkwang is proud to be able to offer a forum to such extraordinary artists as Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Trisha Baga, Neïl Beloufa and Katja Novitskova and also to present Manuel Graf as the winner of the National Award in 2014. All of them count among the outstanding media artists of the present day and their works never fail take up the very latest technologies and themes.”