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Goethe@LUX Residence
Sonya Schönberger

Sonya Schönberger GOETHE@LUX Residency © Lucy Lux / © Christof Zwiener

Goethe@LUX Residency artist 2019

The 2019 Goethe@LUX artist in residence was Sonya Schönberger. Her special interest in historical research and ecology led her to develop a project centering around the cut flower industry in Kenya.

The key theme for the 2019 residency was determined by the Goethe-Institut’s focus on ecology and sustainability as well as the location of LUX in the green environment of Waterlow Park. The site used to be the home of English metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell (1621 – 1678). An early proponent of ecological thinking, Marvell’s poem The Garden (1681) and the lines “annihilating all that’s made / To a green thought in a green shade” provides the reference for this year’s Goethe@LUX residency. Schönberger’s research during the residency took Marvell’s idea of the garden as refuge as point of departure. Her questioning of the image of plants as the provider of solace to humans led her to consider the history of plants both as victims and tools of colonisation, as violated beings and instruments of replacing existing ecologies. During the course of the three months she spent in London she directed her focus more and more on the Kenyan flower industry and its problematic ecological and social workings and how we support it through our local pruchases.

In a video interview recorded in July 2019 towards the end of her residency, Sonya Schönberger talks in more detail about the background of her project.

Sonya Schönberger is a Berlin-based artist who combines her studies in social anthropology and experimental media design in her artistic practice. The tracing of historical themes in connection with individual memories marked by breaks is of particular interest to her. Many of her projects have developed out of different archives, which she either found or created. Over the past ten years, she has for instance built up an archive of interviews with witnesses to World War II from various countries. Archive of Memories, a long-term project, examines the effects of Germany’s World War II traumas for future generations. Schönberger works across different media such as photography, theatre, film, installation and audio formats.

Schönberger’s works have been exhibited internationally, including in the USA, Iran, Pakistan, Israel and Canada. The artist has been awarded various scholarships, most recently from the Research Fund Fonds Darstellende Künste (2019), the GLOBAL Scholarship by the Senate of Berlin to cooperate with the National Drama Theatre of Lithuania (2017) and a working scholarship provided by the Senate of Berlin (2014). She has also taken part in numerous residency programmes such as the New York scholarship provided by Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral (2012) and the ARTPORT residency in Tel Aviv (2017).

Schönberger’s book Zingster Strasse 25 was published in the series Berliner Hefte zu Geschichte und Gegenwart der Stadt in 2017. It tells the personal stories of daily life in the GDR, but also bears witness to the regime change of 1989. Parts of the book were read at the event Zingster Straße 25, which was held at the Goethe-Institut London on 3 July 2019 in cooperation with the German Historical Institute London.

A collaboration between LUX and the Goethe-Institut London.

Read here another interview with Sonya Schönberger

Events featuring Sonya Schönberger
16 June 2019, Plant Stories
19 June 2019, An Evening about Sustainability
3 July 2019, Performative Reading: Zingster Straße 25
21 July 2019, Green Thoughts in a Green Shade
25 July 2019, An Evening on Roses
Sonya Schönberger homepage

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