Press Release, Thu 4 May 2023
Starting tomorrow, the Jewish Museum Berlin (JMB) presents the exhibition Sans histoire with works by Maya Schweizer. As part of the exhibition’s opening event at 7 pm this evening, the artist will receive the Dagesh Art Award for her video installation Sans histoire. The prize, awarded by the JMB and Dagesh – Jewish Art in Context with the support of the FRIENDS OF THE JMB, aims to raise the profile of new and diverse contemporary Jewish viewpoints, honoring art that engages with topical problems and questions of social coexistence. This year, the call for submissions looked for “artworks that examine both the past and the present to unfold an artistic vision of the future.” Alongside the prizewinning work, the exhibition shows three other experimental video pieces from the years 2012, 2019, and 2020.
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The video installation Sans histoire won Maya Schweizer the Dagesh Art Award, which is presented at the JMB for the third time and includes the realization of an exhibition at the museum. Reflecting on the award’s question this year, “What Now? From Dystopias to Utopias,” Schweizer’s answer is open – sans histoire: both without history and without story. In her prizewinning artwork, Maya Schweizer follows through her thought experiment on a consciousness without history. What happens when memory fades in the face of historical upheavals, climate catastrophe, and ultimately the finitude of human existence? Does the past still impact upon the future? Does digital storage delay or hasten an incipient collective amnesia? Alternating between dystopias and utopias, between impulses of threat and liberation, the artist explores transhuman and posthuman scenarios.
The jury praised the conceptual and artistic vision that Schweizer develops in her work:
“Maya Schweizer’s artwork offers a multidimensional response to the question ‘What now?’ Rather than giving simple answers, Sans histoire invites us to interrogate the narratives of social realities and diversely constituted utopias. The focus of her work is the field of tension arising from individual and collective action. As such, Maya Schweizer takes up a question crucial to our present day: that of societal and individual responsibility for our future.”
Maya Schweizer was born in Paris in 1976. She studied art and art history in Aix-en-Provence, at the Academy of Fine Arts Leipzig (HGB), and at the Berlin University of the Arts (UdK). In the four films on show in the exhibition, she weaves together fragments of memory and strands of forgetting. Texts, sounds, and images give rise to streams of thought that do not coalesce into narratives. Maya Schweizer says of her new installation:
“I asked myself how mental images relate to cinematic images, whether film can ultimately reveal its own unconscious and show us a new world. I do not predefine how the images should be read. I want to give viewers plenty of freedom for interpretation, for thinking. I’d like them to navigate between thoughts and read between the images.”
Hetty Berg, Director of the JMB, emphasizes that the award-winning video piece, like the other works on show, encourages visitors to reflect on the role of memory and forgetting in the ways we see ourselves – a highly topical theme.
“As individuals and as a community, what would we be without our memory, without our own or our shared history, which we never cease to write and rewrite? What origins do we invoke; what future do we imagine? Maya Schweizer shows how flexible, and how fragile, our social imagination is. And that our imagination is what decides how we configure our lives.”
The Dagesh Art Award and the exhibition at the JMB are made possible by support from the FRIENDS OF THE JMB, the reception at the exhibition opening by support from the Coalition for Pluralistic Public Discourse. The previous Dagesh prizewinners are Liat Grayver, Yair Kira, and Amir Shpilman (2018) and Talya Feldman (2021).
For more information, visit /www.jmberlin.de/en/sans-histoire.
|Exhibition dates:||5 May–27 August 2023|
|Location:||JMB, Libeskind Building, ground level, Eric F. Ross Gallery|
|Opening hours:||daily from 10 am to 7 pm|