Dieter Ruckhaberle Award 2022: Anna Scherbyna and Uliana Bychenkova

Artists Anna Scherbyna and Uliana Bychenkova have been selected as this year’s Dieter Ruckhaberle Award winners. The two Ukrainian artists, who combine their works into collaborative curatorial and artistic projects, will work together within the framework of the sponsorship award. The award includes a residency at Künstlerhof Frohnau and an exhibition at GalerieETAGE in Museum Reinickendorf.

The statement of the jury is as follows:
Art’s potential to reveal more than the news reports: over extensive time periods, artists Anna Scherbyna and Uliana Bychenkova track politics and current events in their own respective practices as well as in collaboration with each other. Combining their keen feminist perspective with a knack for communication, they tap into complex situations and impressively convey them in artworks, curatorial projects, and participatory workshops. They do not treat the places and means of showing art and history as neutral circumstances.  An ongoing engagement with the forms and languages of museology and local historiography has formed part of their practice for many years. Their vocabulary includes harshly confrontational as well as surreally unbounded forms of staging (and intervening in) exhibitions. Drawing constantly on the possibilities of art, they not only depict realities, but their rendering transforms them in such a way that actual change becomes imaginable. Since the annexation of Crimea in 2014 marked the beginning of the ongoing war in Ukraine, which the Russian army has now extended to the entire country, Scherbyna and Bychenkova have witnessed and documented its consequences artistically and politically, in their series of works and public manifestations that emphatically raise awareness of the war’s permanence and its long-term effects.

During their residency at Künstlerhof Frohnau in August and September 2022, Anna Scherbyna and Uliana Bychenkova will work on themes that critically engage with the ambivalent visibility that comes with refugee status: “As white female cultural workers from Ukraine, we suddenly found ourselves in a situation of positive discrimination: unlike our male colleagues and many other Ukrainian professionals of all genders, we are welcomed guests in residences and grant programs. We would like to work on a curatorial exhibition project reflecting on our (and our colleagues as well) new rational or irrational experiences of the current time. Bureaucratic, political, emotional aspects of the experience we faced resulting in uncertain awaiting, responsibility, solidarity, guilt, and rage.”

Anna Scherbyna (b. 1988, Zaporizhia/Ukraine) is an artist, illustrator, and curator, who graduated from the National Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture as well as the School of Visual Communication Kyiv. She is a co-founder of the Concrete Dates Collective (2015-2017) and was a Pinchuk Art Centre Prize 2020 nominee. She works in various techniques, including painting, drawing, video, installation. Her practice covers topics such as landscape in relation to power and war, gender performativity, female voice and feminist optics, and the critical revision of social-realist heritage.

Uliana Bychenkova (b. 1986, Kerch/Ukraine) is an artist, curator, book designer, and researcher. She focuses her attention in art on application, clarifying and reassigning from the standpoint of feminist revision: power dispositions in urban space; asymmetries of symbolic power in the professional field; the status of decorative and applied arts. As methods, she practices feminist artistic research, strategic imagination and tactical inventions, self-publishing, musical performance, ceramic objects, and conceptual terminology. Member and initiator of many art and research associations.

This year’s jury, consisting of Rike Frank (curator, executive director of the Artistic Research Grant Program Berlin) Solvej Helweg Ovesen (curator, cultural researcher, Galerie Wedding – Raum für zeitgenössische Kunst), Setareh Shahbazi (artist, team of Künstlerhof Frohnau), Jan Verwoert (art critic, curator, professor of art and theory at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts), and Dr. Sabine Ziegenrücker (Head of the Department of Art and History Berlin Reinickendorf, director Museum Reinickendorf) unanimously voted for Anna Scherbyna and Uliana Bychenkova from a pool of nominated artists. Nominators included: Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock, Suza Husse, Petrit Halilaj, Jörg Heiser, Judith Hopf, Antje Majewski, Josephine Pryde, Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Sandra Teitge, and Raul Walch.

The Dieter Ruckhaberle Award is awarded since 2019 by the Department of Art and History of Berlin/Museum Reinickendorf and Künstlerhof Frohnau. It is awarded to artists who find innovative forms for working on political and social issues. The award includes a two-months residency, a production budget, and an exhibition. Previous recipients have been Luiza Prado (2019), Annette Frick (2020), and Surya Gied (2021).

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