Goethe Medal Congratulations!
What can culture contribute to international understanding? How can we promote intercultural dialogue? Yurii Andrukhovych, Akinbode Akinbiyi and David Lordkipanidze offer impressive answers to these questions. On 28 August, the three cultural professionals were honoured for this with the Goethe Medal in Weimar.
“Migration of Cultures – Cultures of Migration” was the motto of the conferment of the 2016 Goethe Medal. Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, the president of the Goethe-Institut, awarded the official decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany to photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi, writer Yurii Andrukhovych and museum director David Lordkipanidze. Lehmann said, “Each year, the conferment of the Goethe Medal in Schloss Weimar on Goethe’s birthday is a highlight for the appreciation of cultural dialogue, for equal and independent meeting of cultures and their active mediation. Our human life is primarily cultural. It is therefore worthwhile to tackle social conflicts on the path of cultural convergence.”
The writer, poet, essayist and translator Yurii Andrukhovych is considered one of the most important intellectual voices of Ukraine. He advocates convergence between Western and Eastern Europe, translates German poets such as Rainer Maria Rilke into Ukrainian and familiarizes German readers with his homeland through his own writing.
In her laudatory speech for Andrukhovych, the translator Sabine Stöhr said, “He draws from multiple sources and combines them into a distinctive tone. This is how he brought Ukrainian literature out of its classical ossification and Soviet-Ukrainian provincialism in the 1980s. He gave it back its mischievous grin and opened it to the diverse impressions and influences of Europe and the world. And he reclaimed Ukrainian literature’s place in Europe. In this way – and not only in his political thinking – Yurii Andrukhovych was and is avant-garde.”
Akinbode Akinbiyi is one of the most prominent African photographers worldwide. His focuses are reportage, architectural and cultural photography, his pictures have been shown at biennials and exhibitions. With his photos, Akinbiyi is able to bring everyday, urban life in Africa to life for viewers.
The artist Eva Leitolf, who held the laudatory speech for Akinbiyi, described Akinbiyi’s work as contributions to the migration of cultures, saying, “Understanding photographing as a process of negotiation, of exchange – beyond “shooting” or “taking” pictures – characterises Akinbiyi’s work and makes it a pioneering and radical project based on a highly expanded concept of photography. His interest in his subjects is not content to create wonderfully cryptic compositions and to suggest complex contexts.”
As one of the most prestigious paleoanthropologists and archaeologists worldwide, the director general of the Georgian National Museum, David Lordkipanidze, works to advance cultural and educational policies in Georgia and has made a decisive contribution to German-Georgian cultural relations. He lastingly spurred on the modernization of Georgian museums.
In his acceptance speech, Lordkipanidze discussed the constant evolution of culture, stating, “Today, looking on the development of the processes in the modern world, Goethe’s words are still actual: In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it. My country, Georgia, is also part of these processes, using science and culture in the first place to be connected to the rest of the world – to be part of the whole world.”
Left to right: Stefan Wolf, Heike Taubert, Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Juri Andruchowytsch, Johannes Ebert, Friederike Fless, Eva Leitolf, David Lordkipanidze, Andreas Görgen, Sabine Stöhr, Christina von Braun. | Photo: Maik Schuck