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Goethe Medal awarded
“Their art connects cultures”

The award winners: Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell, Toshio Hosokawa, Wen Hui ( f.l.t.r.)
The award winners: Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell, Toshio Hosokawa, Wen Hui ( f.l.t.r.) | Photos (details): f.l.t.r.: © Max Mbakop, © Kaz Ishikawa, © Richy Wong

The Goethe Medal was awarded on 28th August as an official badge of honour of the Federal Republic of Germany. A digital award ceremony was held to honour Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell, Toshio Hosokawa and Wen Hui for their contributions to international cultural exchange.

“Culture is a special kind of juice – in the global community’s web” was the motto of this year’s award ceremony. Christina von Braun, cultural scientist and vice-president of the Goethe Institute, explains: “Artists are among the most important protagonists in the digital communication apparatus that, although it connects us with each other, can also turn us against each other. They teach us to see and read with different eyes as well as to hear with different ears. In other words, they are mediators of the ability to differentiate that we need in our interconnected world.”
 
This year, social economist and president of the cultural organisation doual’art, Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell from Cameroon, composer Toshio Hosokawa from Japan and dancer and choreographer Wen Hui from China received the prestigious award. The winners of the 2021 Goethe Medal were honoured at a digital ceremony created in cooperation with Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcasting corporation.
The Goethe Institute’s President Carola Lentz opened the ceremony with an exhortation by 2017 Goethe Medal winner Urvashi Butalia from India: “‘Freedom of expression has never been as important as it is today. We need transparency and the ability to take criticism, and we need to learn from each other’. I am very pleased that we are honouring the cultural and civic engagement of Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell, Toshio Hosokawa and Wen Hui with the Goethe Medal today.”
 
The award winners were once again unable to come to Germany this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Only dancer and choreographer Wen Hui was in Weimar, where Carola Lentz awarded her the Goethe Medal in the Anna Amalia Library after the digital ceremony was broadcast. Carena Schlewitt, theatre scholar and artistic director of the European Centre for the Arts HELLERAU, honoured her with a laudation. Art historian and curator Mahret Ifeoma Kupka gave the laudatory speech for Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell and conductor Alexander Liebreich did so for Toshio Hosokawa. The audience watched the award ceremonies and film portraits of this year’s award winners via livestream.
 
A special programme dedicated to the 2021 Goethe Medal award ceremony also took place as part of the Weimar Art Festival. Among other things, the MUSIKFABRIK ensemble performed the concert “Stunden-Blumen – Vertical Time Study” by award winner Toshio Hosokawa, Wen Hui gave the world premiere of her dance performance “I am 60” and Carola Lentz discussed international cultural work in times of the coronavirus pandemic with the director of the Weimar Art Festival, Rolf C. Hemke.

Livestream video: Digital ceremony in honour of the winners of the 2021 Goethe Medal

Livestream video (YouTube): Digital ceremony in honour of the winners of the 2021 Goethe Medal

The award winners:

Social economist and president of the cultural organisation doual’art, Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell from Cameroon, was honoured for her forward-looking ideas on coming to terms with colonial injustice as well as for her civic engagement and international cultural work.

Toshio Hosokawa from Japan, one of the best-known composers of contemporary music, is being honoured for his distinctive musical language, which he creates based on the tension between “Western” and traditional Japanese culture.

Wen Hui, choreographer and co-founder of the Living Dance Studio, among the dance theatre avant-garde in China, is being honoured for her impressive search (not limited by official narratives) for traces at the interface of art, theatre, dance and documentary film.

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