Quick access:

Go directly to content (Alt 1) Go directly to first-level navigation (Alt 2)

Goethe Medal ceremony
“Accepting contradiction – the fruits of contradiction”

The recipients: Zukiswa Wanner, Elvira Espejo Ayca and Ian McEwan
The recipients: Zukiswa Wanner, Elvira Espejo Ayca and Ian McEwan | Photos: f.l.t.r.: © Brian Otieno, © Michael Dunn, © Annalena McAfee

On August 28, the Goethe-Institut will hold a digital ceremony to present the Goethe Medal to Zukiswa Wanner, Elvira Espejo Ayca and Ian McEwan. Watch the stream of the event with film portraits, talks and musical performances at 11 a.m. (CET).

The Federal Republic of Germany’s official honour is conferred by the Goethe-Institut every year on individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to international cultural exchange. The theme of this year’s awards is “Accepting contradiction – the fruits of contradiction.” The recipients are outstanding examples of the power of critical, reflective art.

“In 2020, the Goethe-Institut is honouring two women and one man who have made a strong commitment to a culture of contradiction,” says Christina von Braun, chair and committee spokesperson and Cultural Studies expert at Humboldt-Universität in Berlin. “Whether they stand up for pro-European politics like the Englishman Ian McEwan or, like the Bolivian museum director, singer and poet Elvira Espejo Ayca, are committed to the defense of indigenous traditions or, like the South African writer Zukiswa Wanner, speak out for women’s rights – what they all have in common is that they have shown courage and at the same time demonstrated the political power that culture can exert.”

Digital Goethe Medal ceremony in two languages

This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the recipients are not able to travel to the official ceremony in Weimar, which traditionally takes place on 28th August, the birthday of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The Goethe-Institut is therefore working with Deutsche Welle to organise a digital ceremony for a global audience. The Goethe-Institut will show the award ceremony for the Goethe Medal at 11 a.m. CET on its website and on the YouTube channel, Deutsche Welle will broadcast the ceremony in English on its YouTube channel.

“The corona crisis is more than a virological phenomenon,” says Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, President of the Goethe-Institut. “It changes societies through isolation, disinformation and contradictions. We want to defy this development and not forego the award of the Goethe Medal. We are strengthening what is unifying with a cross-border digital network of culture and will thus gain new alternatives and processes as a result of the contradiction”.

The ceremony centres on three short films presenting the recipients and their places of work in Bolivia, England and South Africa as well as a discussion between Klaus-Dieter Lehmann and the three recipients. Three renowned individuals will pay tribute to the recipients: Barbara Göbel, an ethnologist at the Ibero-American Institute in Berlin, talks about Elvira Espejo Ayca, the journalist and author Franziska Augstein about Ian McEwan and writer Zoë Beck about Zukiswa Wanner.

Students and teachers from the University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar, led by Tiago de Oliveira Pinto, will present musical compositions that they have chosen and created especially for the medal recipients.