C/O Berlin Talent Award 2023
C/O Berlin is pleased to announce that this year’s C/O Berlin Talent Award 2023 in the category of Artist goes to Swiss artist Aladin Borioli (b. 1988). His award-winning work Apian will be presented in a solo exhibition from Jan 27 to May 22, 2024 at C/O Berlin in Amerika Haus, Hardenbergstraße 22–24, 10623 Berlin. The artists Arnout and Michiel De Cleene (b. 1986/1988, BEL), Naima Green (b. 1990, USA), Elias Holzknecht (b. 1993, AUT), and Jan Staiger and Malte Uchtmann (b.1995/1996, GER) were selected for the Shortlist 2023.
The C/O Berlin Talent Award 2023 in the category Theorist goes to the Dutch author and editor Bas Blaasse (b. 1991), who will write the first theoretical essay on Borioli’s work. The essay will appear alongside an interview with the artist in a monograph published by Spector Books.
Investigating the symbiotic relationship between humans and bees from prehistory to the contemporary era, Aladin Borioli’s encyclopedic research project Apian draws together photography, archival materials, video, and writing to explore interspecies power dynamics. Connecting different fields and research methods—from the architectural to the anthropological, the political to the agricultural, the sociological to the ecological, and the mythological to the divine—Borioli proposes an unconventional rhizomatic reading of our age-old connection to bees.
Considering the connections between apiculture and architecture, Apian loosely traces the genesis of contemporary architecture through the lens of the beehive while also examining how humanity’s desire for ordered socialization has both led to our inevitable identification with the society of bees and has shaped our ideals about work, family, and community. Moreover, Borioli critically reflects on how the “worker bee” has been harnessed as a potent symbol of late-capitalist values, particularly in the Global North, to promote Puritan ideas around productivity and the division of labor. In its complexity, and with its ambitious approach, Borioli’s project Apian captivated all jury members.
Aladin Borioli (b. 1988, CH) studied graphic design at the École d’arts appliqués de La Chaux-de-Fonds, photography at the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL), and holds an MA in visual and media anthropology from Freie Universität Berlin. His work operates at the nexus of art, science, and beekeeping and he has received awards and fellowships in both the arts and the sciences, most recently a fellowship at the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg. The artist’s works have been shown at the Images Vevey festival, Centre d’Art Neuchâtel (both Switzerland), and elsewhere. His 2020 publication Hives 2400 B.C.E. – 1852 C.E. presents archival materials he has gathered on the topic of beekeeping. C/O Berlin will publish the first monograph of Apian, which will fully explore his work in its rich materiality.
Bas Blaasse (b. 1991, NL) writes about art and culture, often focusing on camera-based media and performing arts. His texts are situated at the intersection of fiction and theory. He studied philosophy in Leuven, Berlin, and Brussels, and photography in Breda. He works mainly between the Netherlands and Belgium, and is currently a contributing editor at HART Magazine.
Blaasse’s broad spectrum of interests as well as his interdisciplinary way of working overlap perfectly with Borioli’s methodological focus, which draws on various sources, materials, and approaches to documentation. His submitted texts were convincing in their innovative, multilayered, and coherent approach to complex topics in art, science, and sociocriticism.
The expert jury which selected this year’s winners and shortlist in the category of Artist consisted of Tim Clark (editor in chief, 1000 Words, London), Veronika Epple (junior curator, C/O Berlin Foundation) and Sophia Greiff (co-head of program and curator, C/O Berlin Foundation), Nadja Masri (head of the photo editing class, Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie, Berlin), Alona Pardo (curator, Barbican Centre, London), Salvatore Vitale (artist and lecturer, Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts, CH). The works of the shortlisted artists will be presented online in cooperation with Der Greif magazine.
The expert jury in the category of Theorist reached their decision unanimously. This group consisted of Veronika Epple (junior curator, C/O Berlin Foundation), Sophia Greiff (co-head of program and curator, C/O Berlin Foundation), and Anna Gripp (chief editor, Photonews)
Since 2020, the C/O Berlin Talent Award has been made possible by the Alexander Tutsek-Stiftung.
The project Amidst the Fire, I Am Not Burnt by Arnout and Michiel De Cleene (b. 1986/1988, BEL) constructs a mosaic-like image of Vesuvius, assembled using documentation of the iconic Neapolitan landscape, research photographs, scientific insights, popular tales, as well as the artists’ own interpretations. Starting from the 1872 eruption of Mount Vesuvius—the first volcanic eruption ever photographed—the artists blend historical facts about past eruptions with speculative information about the ever-present danger of a renewed eruption. The project convinced the jury with its methodological approach, presenting alternative narratives through different points of view and temporal modes.
Naima Green (b. 1990, USA) impressed the jury with her work I Keep Missing My Water, which consists of photographs and an 8-minute video installation. The title refers to Otis Reddings’s 1965 song You Don’t Miss Your Water, which encourages the listener to take pleasure in things they are there. A member of the Black and Queer communities, Naima Green documents the intimacy within these communities with great tenderness from an insider perspective. Here, water functions as a metaphor for fluidity and vitality. The viewer can sense her adoring this lively community, see her deep connection to her peers, and is touched by the intimacy of her portraits and the seductive power of the moving images of her protagonists.
The jury praised the quiet but probing study Micheldorf Micheldorf Micheldorf Micheldorf by Elias Holzknecht (b. 1993, AUT), which engages with four places in Austria that, remarkably, bear the same name: Micheldorf. Through non-linear storytelling and by combining color and black and white photography as well as cartography, mind maps, and text fragments, the work establishes a notion of place that is elusive and interchangeable yet undefined; a concept which is heightened by the book proposal which involves shuffled elements in order to create new narratives with every viewing.
The work The Perfect Crime: Concerning the Murder of Reality of Jan Staiger and Malte Uchtmann (b. 1995/1996, GER) intelligently ventures beyond traditional documentation while exploring how we perceive and create reality through fiction. Their clear-cut approach is varied and involves employing interventions that scrutinize the impact of crime fiction on human perception by reappropriating forensic visual strategies. This includes staged set photographs that challenge photographic authenticity, manipulating actors’ portraits using AI, and investigating “fear spaces” in 3D reconstructions of film crime scenes.