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HfK master student Martin Reichmann awarded Karin Hollweg Prize

Antique Template, Contemporary Award

The jury for the Karin Hollweg Preis for 2022 has awarded this important recognition to Martin Reichmann for his work “abtrünnig” (“disloyal”). The piece is part of “Weaving Echoes,” the exhibition for master students at the University of the Arts Bremen at the Gerhard-Marcks-Haus closing on July 17.

The show contains new work created for the occasion and embraces the full spectrum of contemporary art including painting, ceramics, sculpture, as well as site-specific interventions, works in sound and spatial- as well as video installations.

The Karin-Hollweg-Preis is one of the most prestigious and also comes with the highest monetary award among all of the advancement prizes given out by art academies and universities in Germany. The award has been sponsored through a generous donation by the Karin und Uwe Hollweg Stiftung. Half of the prize money of 15.000 Euros goes directly to the winner, the other is dedicated to support a solo show in Bremen. Reichmann will set up his show at the Weserburg in 2023.

Speeches given at the Award Ceremony

Arie Hartog, the curator and director of the Gerhard-Marcks-Haus, praised the timing of the award ceremony at the end of the exhibit, instead of following the traditional approach of handing out the prize at the opening: “This allowed the pieces to unfold their effects without any prejudice.” He expressed his belief that the participants had developed an individual language as artists while studying at the HfK and that their work at the Marcks-Haus demonstrated their achievements in a strong and convincing manner. Hartog also pointed to the careers former master students at the HfK have accomplished and pointed to the Bremen-based sculptor Dietrich Heller as an example, who the Marcks-Haus will feature at their upcoming show “Ungebremst” (July 31 to October 23).

University President Roland Lambrette expressed his gratitude to Karin Hollweg and the Marcks-Haus. All the master students included in the show had talked about the deep respect and extraordinary support they had experienced at the Marcks-Haus at every level and in every aspect of their work as artists and contributors.

Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Professor for Sculpture at the HfK, had a succinct instigation for the students: “Stay with the trouble.” She went on to explain the motto of the exhibition: “Weaving Echoes”– with quotes from “Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest” by Suzanne Simard. The Canadian forest scientist has found: A forest is more than an agglomeration of trees. It is a community of living beings connected and communicating by roots and the rhizomorphs of fungi that support each other by exchanging nutrients. The forest therefore is a model for the kind of society people should create for each other and that Natascha Sadr Haghighian has witnessed among her master students. Their connectedness by exchanges above ground and underground had created echoes and the students had learned to recognise those and integrate them into their work.

The Artist on his Work

Martin Reichmann won the award with a piece consisting of three horse heads. He placed one of them in the passage between the exhibition spaces of the museum and hung the second one on a wall. Both of these had been modelled in clay and then cast in concrete. The third head had been chiseled and ground out of a block of gypsum and then painted in magenta. “Why these animal motives?”, we asked the artist. Reichmann told us he had visited the exhibition space and it had appeared to him that the classical architecture of the Marcks-Haus referred to classical antiquity: “This reminded me of visiting Athens. I have been on the Acropolis and saw the empty spaces there—so many objects where just missing,” such as the Parthenon Marbles that Lord Elgin had gotten removed from this temple to the goddess Athena on the Acropolis during his time as British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century and then sold to the British Museum. They still can be seen there als icons of classical sculpture, among them the head of a horse pulling a war chariot on the gable at the east side of the Parthenon. Reichmann now undertakes a reinterpretation of the sculpture: The antique work had been the abstraction of a real horse head—and he had created a new abstraction of it: a copy of a copy of a copy…

Is he making a statement against looted art? “That is in there somewhere” the winner of the Hollweg-Preis acknowledged. But his focus had mainly been to place what once had been a heroic horse on the ground, as a damaged version and symbol for the demise of an high culture—the horse now appeared to be only serviceable as a ridiculous figurine at a fair ground carousel, such as in the dolled-up, kitschy version he had placed at the pavilion.

Reichmann: “The concrete relief on the floor had ben fashioned in an amateurish way and can be understood as a mundane piece of architectural decoration referring to classical antiquity. As such it appears that it had been dismantled, put aside, left to dangle somehow and overlooked. The ugliness of everyday life had moved in only to rot the same way as the heads: cut off, the tongues limp, their gazes empty. Yet there still is hope: A third head has not fallen to ground. Resting on the stump of its neck, the contorted, swollen horse head painted in a shrill, glittery enamel, evokes the kitschy-trashy figures and the air brush aesthetics of a fair ground. This appearance poses a contrast to the ruined pendants cast in concrete that rest on the floor of the room as heavy as if made from lead. The polychromy of antiquity reemerges in the form of colourful auto paint. The presumptuous, purportedly white, cultural heritage of antique Athens is being ridiculed and pitied, humour enters the scene. The heads evoke different narrative options. The borders between eras, backgrounds, positions and locations are being transcended and blurred, creating openings for new perspectives. Are these renegade or disloyal perspectives? The title refers to the aspect of rebellion, but also just to the fact that we are simply dealing with a chopped off head here. This might be a symbol for the isolated individual that has been severed from the history of the end of this high culture that now lies on the ground somewhere among left over french fries and cigarette butts.”

Opinion of the Jury

The jury explained their decision for Reichmann thus: “In his work, Martin Reichmann has three components interact in an irritating way: His pieces often times own a rude appearance, as well as a seemingly amateurish handling of their material, that tends to be concrete. Reichmann uses the common building material to recreate objects made for everyday use or are ever present in the collective memory. Doing so, he upends their uses and reduces them to absurdity. Reichmann furthermore stages his work in precisely structured spaces. These presentations react to and take into account their actual exhibition spaces, but also their localities. In this way he creates an overall effect of situational comedy that has viewers take a closer, second look at his pieces to get a fuller grasp of their complex and deeply considered contents. His piece at the exhibition for master students impressed by an apparent sense of reservedness contradicted by wit and the form of the work. By consisting of three parts, the piece transcends its isolation in the pavilion and connects to the individual, artistic positions shown at the exhibit.”

Members of the Jury

The jury 2022 included: Matilda Felix (Städtische Galerie Delmenhorst), Eva Fischer-Hausdorf (Kunsthalle Bremen), Wolfgang Hainke (artist), Annette Hans (GAK, Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst), Andreas Kreul (Karin und Uwe Hollweg Stiftung), Nadja Quante (Künstlerhaus Bremen), Frank Schmidt (Museen Böttcherstraße), Janneke de Vries (Weserburg, Museum für moderne Kunst) and Veronika Wiegartz (Gerhard-Marcks-Haus).

Biographie of the Award Winner

Martin Reichmann was born in Bremerhaven in 1989 and mainly works in sculpture, involving installations and spatial interventions. He studied liberal arts with BKH Gutmann and Elisabeth Wagner at the Muthesius Kunsthochschule in Kiel from 2010 to 2014. In 2017 Reichmann began his studies in liberal arts at the University of the Arts Bremen with Kayle Brandon, Olav Westphalen and Ingo Vetter. He received his diploma in 2021 and went on to become a master student with Ingo Vetter. Reichmann has participated in numerous group exhibits in Northern Germany, often times in cooperation with fellow artists.

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From the left: Karin Hollweg, Preisträger Martin Reichmann und Arie Hartog, Direktor des Gerhard-Marcks-Hauses. Foto: Lukas Klose

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Fotos: Lukas Klose / Sandra Beckefeldt