Deutsche Bank Awards
Fostering Young Creative Minds in London
A real success story: ever since the Deutsche Bank Awards were initiated in 1993, over 150 young creative people in London have profited from the prize. Each year, the winners' projects reaffirm just how vibrant and variegated the scene in the British capital truly is. Achim Drucks introduces a selection of the winners.
||A grand hall from a Carpathian palace right in the middle of London: huge chandeliers hang above oriental rugs; the walls are cloaked in precious wooden veneer; the marble hearth is especially opulent. It's only at second glance that everything becomes clear: the whole thing is one big fake. The environment was inspired by the Peles Palace—Romania's answer to Neuschwanstein. In an incredible mix of Rococo, Art Nouveau, and oriental elements, the residence of the Romanian king made such a strong impression on the two artists Katharina Stöver and Barbara Wolff that they decided to reconstruct one of its halls—albeit in their London living room. They simply wallpapered their walls with enlarged reproductions of the lavish palace décor and then christened the imitation luxury ambience as a gallery and restaurant. The installation quickly became a meeting point of the young art scene. Now, Peles Empire, the name of the project by the two Royal Academy of Arts graduates, has won this year's Deutsche Bank Award in the category "Fine Art."
The spectrum of winners this year is wide: Anastasia Taylor-Lind is planning a photo-documentation on the living situation among women in the Middle East. Fashion designer Julia Crew has just founded the label Ididnieken to introduce accessories to the market that have been manufactured in a sustainable way. And Hermann Trebsche's building-block system MöÖB is designed to stimulate children's creativity. These are only some of the projects that have won a Deutsche Bank Award in 2009. And as widely varied as they are, they all have one thing in common: the ideas all stem from graduates of London’s leading colleges and academies for art, design, fashion, dance, and music.
Initiated in 1993 under the name "Pyramid Awards," the prize, endowed with 8,000 pounds, supports young creative minds after graduation, deliberately aiming at the interstice between studies and professional life. After all, what use is the most promising project if the means to realize it aren't available? "The Deutsche Bank Awards were set up in recognition that annually students were graduating from London's leading arts institutions with amazing creativity and bright ideas, but they often lacked the business skills or finance to enable them to launch their careers," explains Kate Cavelle, Director of Corporate Citizenship UK. "The Awards not only provide finance, but also business training and business mentoring to enable them to successfully steer themselves through the tricky year after graduating." And the winners also, of course, profit from the excellent connections Deutsche Bank London enjoys with the local art scene.
Which is also what helped photographer Nica Junker get her career off the ground: "Through the award, I succeeded brilliantly in changing my former student life into a professional working life. This is a big step and the award helped me a lot. Actually, a lot of contacts that were started through the award helped me to establish my professional work right now." Nica Junker was also able to realize her project Silent Neighbours. In February of 2009, she installed interactive photo booths in cafés in Shanghai and Tokyo, where visitors could have their pictures taken and then send them as e-postcards accompanied by short texts. The portraits also appear on the website of Silent Neighbours. Additional photo booths are planned for other major cities to promote cultural exchange across national boundaries.
The prizewinners' works are also exhibited regularly—for instance in the 2007 show Picante, which celebrated the 15th anniversary of the awards in the National Theatre in London. The curator of the exhibition was Sinta Tantra, who grew up in Bali. Tantra won an award in 2006 for a public art project, her mural Isokon Dreams on Regent's Park Bridge. "As a final year student at the Royal Academy of Arts, I was creating site-specific installations," recalls the artist. "I had a lot of ambition to really make it as a public artist. There is something beautiful about creating a piece of artwork that is accessible to the public, yet I also wanted to challenge prevailing concepts of what public art is. Looking back, not only was putting together a business plan a good exercise for envisioning what I wanted, it gave me the confidence to start developing my skills and critically analyzing what makes a project doable, successful, and exciting."
In Tantra's work, Balinese motifs merge with geometric abstraction and elements of pop culture to create a vibrant web of color. In order to get the public involved in her project, its realization was accompanied by special guided tours and art workshops for children and youths at neighboring schools. Tantra's project not only convinced the jury of the Deutsche Bank Awards; following the completion of the 42-meter-long painting, the artist also received a Citizen Award from the City of London.
One of the best-known prizewinners is Christopher Kane. Ever since winning a Deutsche Bank Award in 2006, he has become one of the highest-profile fashion designers in Britain. Today, Kane works with stars of the field like Donatella Versace and Manolo Blahnik; he designs outfits for Kylie Minogue and Beth Ditto. Similarly, many of the fine artists who have won awards have succeeded in establishing themselves internationally. Andy Parker, one of the prizewinners of 2007, is now represented by the renowned Dusseldorf gallery Sies + Höke, which presented his first one-man show in Germany this year. Junked washing machines, mattresses, and refrigerators provide the models for Parker's sculptures, which he builds from simple materials such as cardboard, tape, and aluminum foil that he stacks up and then sets out on the stormy sea and photographs. Titled The History of England, the work of this 1978-born artist evokes nostalgic sea myths that are played out ad absurdum by trivial everyday objects. Like Andy Parker, photo artist Clare Strand and sculptor Gereon Krebber, who won their awards in 1998 and 2002 respectively, have also participated in numerous international exhibitions.
The career of the sculptor Graham Hudson also testifies to the instinct of the Deutsche Bank Awards jury. Since winning the prize in 2002, he has had one-man exhibitions at Zinger Presents in Amsterdam, the Rokeby Gallery in London, and Locust Projects in Miami. In 2007 he was discovered at the Zoo Art Fair by the mega-collector Charles Saatchi, who purchased one of his bulky garbage assemblages. Now, Hudson is also part of the show Newspeak, the cooperative exhibition between the Saatchi Gallery and the State Hermitage Museum that takes stock of current British art. The show can be seen in St. Petersburg starting on October 25, 2009, and in London starting in June 2010. More than a decade after Sensation paved the way for the international breakthrough of the Young British Artists, Newspeak presents a new generation of artists. And who knows? Maybe the name Graham Hudson will soon be as familiar to the general public as Douglas Gordon or Damien Hirst.
23 Great Winchester Street, London
26 October 2009 – January 2010
On view are works by Danielle Mourning, Katharina Stoever and Barbara Wolff, Peles Empire as well as Hermann Trebsche, who are all winners of the Deutsche Bank Awards.