Cameroon, Toshio Hosokawa from Japan and Wen Hui from China – will be honoured in an online ceremony on 28 August at 11 am. The ceremony, produced in cooperation with Deutsche Welle, will be broadcast in a live stream on the Goethe-Institut’s channels. Kunstfest Weimar also offers a special supporting programme: A conversation between the president of the Goethe-Institut Carola Lentz and the director of the Kunstfest Rolf C. Hemke about international cultural exchange in multilateral contexts at noon on 28 August. The Ensemble Musikfabrik will perform compositions by Toshio Hosokawa on 27 August, 5 pm, and at 7 pm, the world premiere of the dance piece “I am 60” by Wen Hui is planned.

The 2021 Goethe Medal goes to the social economist and president of the doual’art cultural organisation Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell of Cameroon, who develops forward-looking ideas for reappraising colonial injustice and combines civil society commitment with international cultural work. Awardee Toshio Hosokawa is one of the best-known composers of contemporary music who creates his distinctive musical language from the tension between Western and traditional Japanese culture. Choreographer and performer Wen Hui is part of the avant-garde of dance theatre in China. At the interface of art, theatre, dance and documentary film, her pieces are often a personal search for traces beyond official narratives. All the awardees, in the words of Goethe-Institut president Carola Lentz, courageously stand up with their art for an equal, open and democratic society. They are important role models for international cultural exchange, which is challenged by increasing illiberal tendencies, growing inequalities and the global impact of the pandemic.

The awardees of the 2021 Goethe Medal and their latest projects will be presented in a Zoom press conference on 13 July from 10-11 am. Please register with smeierhenrich@t-online.de

Ceremony planned online and as a live screening in Weimar
Since the pandemic restrictions prevent the awardees from coming to Germany together, an online ceremony of about 30 minutes is planned to be broadcast on 28 August at 11 am on the channels of the Goethe-Institut. It will present the awardees in three film portraits made in collaboration with Deutsche Welle and take viewers on a short journey to Africa, Japan and China. Statements by the laudatory speakers pay tribute to the work of the awardees. The art scholar and curator for fashion, body and performance at the Museum Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt a.M. Mahret Ifeoma Kupka will speak on Princess Marilyn Douala Manga Bell. Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Orquestra de València Alexander Liebreich will pay tribute to Toshio Hosokawa. The theatre scholar and artistic director of HELLERAU –

Europäisches Zentrum der Künste Carena Schlewitt will hold the laudatory speech for Wen Hui. The theme of this year’s award ceremony is “Culture is a very special juice – in the network of the global community” alluding to the importance of the unifying power of art and culture in this time of the coronavirus pandemic. Christina von Braun, vice-president of the Goethe-Institut and chair of the Goethe Medal Commission, will present this year’s motto in the online ceremony.  

The Weimar audience can watch the online ceremony on 28 August at 11 am in the study centre of the Anna Amalia Library. Afterwards, the president of the Goethe-Institut Carola Lentz and the director of Kunstfest Weimar Rolf C. Hemke will discuss current challenges for international cultural exchange. The conversation will be recorded.

Supporting programme for the Goethe Medal at Kunstfest Weimar
On 27 August, the Goethe-Institut and Kunstfest Weimar will present the awardees Wen Hui and Toshio Hosokawa in two works: At 7 pm, Wen Hui will perform her new documentary dance project “I am 60” for the first time at E-Werk Weimar (repeated on 28 Aug, 4 pm). The Ensemble Musikfabrik from Cologne will perform compositions by Toshio Hosokawa under the title “Stunden-Blumen – Vertical Time Study” at 5 pm in the Schießhaus Weimar. The performances will be recorded.

The body and its age are the theme of Wen Hui’s new work “I am 60”. Considering her 60th birthday, she reflects in it “how our body becomes our own battlefield over time.” To this end, in addition to questioning her own family history, she conducted a series of interviews with young women about their struggle for self-assertion in contemporary Chinese society. She also looks at the roots of feminism in the Chinese cinema of the 1930s and asks: What remained of the “new woman” of the Chinese pioneers of feminism proclaimed at the time? In Weimar, Wen Hui is showing a multimedia and documentary project that places her body in the context of film and sound clips, with text projections, recitations and in dialogue with the audience.  

Toshio Hosokawa draws his distinctive musical language from the tension between the “Western” avant-garde and traditional Japanese culture. Deeply connected to the aesthetic and spiritual roots of Japanese arts such as calligraphy and court music, the gagaku, in his compositions he gives musical expression to the idea of beauty growing out of transience. “We hear the individual notes and appreciate at the same time the process of how the notes are born and die: a sound landscape of continual ‘becoming’ that is animated in itself,” says Hosokawa. Four musicians from the Ensemble Musikfabrik will perform Hosokawa’s reference works in Weimar.

Please send press registrations for the screening of the online ceremony in Weimar, the subsequent discussion and for the programme at Kunstfest Weimar via e-mail to sarah.adamus@nationaltheater-weimar.de

Press photos of the 2021 awardees at: www.goethe.de/bilderservice

Information about the Goethe Medal and an overview of previous awardees: www.goethe.de/goethe-medaille

The online ceremony for the awarding of the 2021 Goethe Medal will be held in cooperation with Deutsche Welle. The supporting programme for the Goethe Medal in Weimar was developed in cooperation with Kunstfest Weimar. With kind support from the Klassik Stiftung Weimar.

About the Goethe Medal
The Goethe Medal was established by the executive committee of the Goethe-Institut in 1954 and acknowledged as an official decoration by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1975. The conferment is held on 28 August, Goethe’s birthday. Since it was first awarded in 1955, 357 persons from 70 countries have been honoured, including Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Bourdieu, David Cornwell AKA John le Carré, Sir Ernst Gombrich, Lars Gustafsson, Ágnes Heller, Petros Markaris, Shirin Neshat, Sir Karl Raimund Popper, Jorge Semprún, Robert Wilson, Neil MacGregor, Helen Wolff, Yurii Andrukhovych, Irina Shcherbakova and Ian McEwan.

The Goethe Medal Commission
Dr. Franziska Augstein (journalist, Süddeutsche Zeitung), Prof. Dr. Christina von Braun (chair and representative of the board of trustees, cultural scientist, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Dr. Meret Forster (editorial director, music, BR-Klassik), Olga Grjasnowa (writer), Matthias Lilienthal (dramaturge and theatre director), Moritz Müller-Wirth (journalist, Die Zeit), Cristina Nord (Berlinale Forum, head of Berlin section), Insa Wilke (literary critic); representing the Federal Foreign Office: Dr. Andreas Görgen (head of the department of culture and communication at the Foreign Office); representing the Goethe-Institut: Prof. Dr. Carola Lentz (president of the Goethe-Institut), Johannes Ebert (secretary-general of the Goethe-Institut)