The Goethe-Institut and the Grohs family conceived a prize of €20.000 in memory of Henrike Grohs. The former Head of the Goethe-Institut in Côte d’Ivoire and 17 other people lost their lives on 13 March 2016 in a terror attack in Grand-Bassam. The new Henrike Grohs prize for African artists will be awarded for the first time on 13 March in Abidjan.
The Henrike Grohs Art Award is to continue the lifetime work of Henrike Grohs who committed her productive life to artists in Africa. The Secretary-General of the Goethe-Institut Johannes Ebert, “Henrike Grohs embodied the principles and values of international cultural exchange, as understood by the Goethe-Institut, to the highest degree. Through art and culture the Goethe-Institut strives to build bridges between people and to contribute to contemporary African culture becoming more visible in global discourse. This is what the Henrike Grohs Art Award stands for. It is a clear sign against violence and fanaticism.”
The prize will be awarded biennially from 2018 to artists or artists’ collectives practising in the field of visual arts. Artistic quality is the most important criteria for the award. Collaborative partnership, imparting knowledge to other artists and social engagement are decisive elements for recognition by the jury that is made up of renowned creative artists and art experts from five different African countries: the Artistic Director of RAW Material Company Koyo Kouoh from Dakar, the artist and representative of the Grohs family Laurence Bonvin from Berlin, the Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe Raphael Chikukwa from Harare and the Curator Simon Njami from Paris.
The members of the jury made a statement on the newly conceived prize:
“On 13 March 2016 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Henrike Grohs was killed by the blindest hatred as she was spending time with friends at the beach. Two months before, a young photographer, Leila Alaoui, 32, was shot in Burkina Faso by the ‘same people’. Many more, too many more, have fallen simply because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time; simply because a handful of fundamentalists started a war of terror. We are facing troublesome times and it is our duty to refuse to surrender to fatalism. All those deaths must be transformed into something stronger than death, into something bigger than ourselves. Henrike was working for a better world. A world where, ‘a proud heart can survive a general failure because such failure does not prick its pride.’ (Chinua Achebe: Things Fall Apart).
The Henrike Grohs Art Award is established as an answer to all those who think that we cannot live together in a world where sharing would be the main aim. Where borders would have no meaning and where humanity would be the only matter to fight for – that is humanity as a whole, as something that cannot be destroyed and that remains untouched. The message is clear: we shall not surrender. We shall, as Henrike did, stand for what we believe in, without any compromise.
The award is dedicated to artists practicing in Africa. Yet the message that is sent is a universal address, a call for reflection and action. Art is probably the one field where no translation is needed. It is that universal language which transforms the ‘chaotic world of sensations’ that we all share, into forms of representations and relations. The Henrike Grohs Art Award aims at strengthening artists and encouraging them in their quest for a world of togetherness and dialogue. Art knows neither borders nor religion. It is the very expression of that flame that keeps us going, from North to South and East to West. It is the best expression of our unbreakable faith in our humanity.”
The Jury members
Koyo Kouoh, Laurence Bonvin, Raphael Chikukwa and Simon Njami
About Henrike Grohs:
Henrike Grohs died on 13 March 2016 in a terrorist attack in Côte d’Ivoire along with seventeen other people. She studied ethnology and was Head of the Goethe-Institut in Abidjan from 2013 to her death. She co-founded the project Next - Intercultural Projects at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Between 2002 and 2009, she worked as Project Manager in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s Education programme. In 2009, she was appointed Advisor on Culture and Development at the Goethe-Institut in South Africa. Henrike Grohs was 51 at the time of her passing.
About the Goethe-Institut:
The Goethe-Institut is the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute, active worldwide. Its mandate is to promote the study of German abroad and to encourage international cultural exchange. Today it is represented in 98 countries and has some 3,300 employees. It contributes widely to the promotion of artists, ideas and works. Supporting the local cultural scenes and strengthening pan-African dialogue through the arts are part of its mission on the African continent, where it operates 19 institutes in Abidjan, Accra, Addis Ababa, Alexandria, Cairo, Casablanca, Dakar, Dar es Salaam, Johannesburg, Khartoum, Kigali, Lagos, Lomé, Luanda, Nairobi, Rabat, Tunis, Windhoek and Yaoundé, as well as 3 liaison offices in Algiers, Kinshasa and Ouagadougou.