This year’s Preis der Nationalgalerie, an esteemed biennial award given to a German artist younger than 40, went to Sandra Mujinga, whose sculptures, videos, photographs, and installations often conjure dystopian futures. Mujinga, who is based in Berlin and Oslo, will now receive a solo show at the Hamburger Bahnhof, a state-run contemporary art museum in Berlin.
The Preis der Nationalgalerie differs from most art awards in one key respect: it doesn’t come with money, which has been a source of contention among some nominees in past years. In spite of this, the prize is held in high regard, and winning it is considered a stamp of approval that leads to greater success. Anne Imhof, for example, won the award in 2015, two years before she went on to win the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale for her German Pavilion.
Mujinga’s best-known works are her sculptures resembling elongated mythical beings with draping clothes that appear not to have bodies beneath their folds. The artist also has paid homage to the role that digital technology plays in the way that certain communities are represented both in the digital and physical realms. At stake in much of her work is an interest in what critic Gilda Williams–writing in a recent Art in America review of Mujinga’s show at the Approach gallery in London–called “hypervisibility and invisibility,” specifically as both relate to Blackness,
“The topics addressed by her works resonate greatly with the present moment, while also seeming to come from a future already passed,” the prize’s jury wrote in a statement. “They remind us to be considerate of other living beings for the sake of our own survival, and that we can observe and learn from their various strategies of adapting to an ever-changing world.”