The 2016 Goethe Medals goes to the African photographer Akinbode Akinbiyi, the writer Yurii Andrukhovych from Ukraine and the Georgian museum director David Lordkipanidze.
Every year the Goethe-Institut confers the official decoration of the Federal Republic of Germany to honour figures who have performed outstanding service to convey the German language and promote international cultural relations. Klaus-Dieter Lehmann, president of the Goethe-Institut, will present the awards at Weimer’s Stadtschloss on 28 August.
The main theme of this year’s conferment is “Migration of Cultures – Cultures of Migration.” The awardees Akin Akinbiyi, Yurii Andrukhovych and David Lordkipanidze are three highly renowned individuals who have rendered outstanding services to cultural exchange between their home countries and Germany – each in their own specific areas of work. Photographer Akin Akinbiyi, who has lived in Berlin since the early 1990s, is considered one of the most important artistic mediators between Germany and sub-Saharan Africa. With his photographs of everyday life in African cities, he brings viewers closer to urban life in Africa and the migratory movements there. Among other activities, Akin Akinbiyi will be showing new works at documenta 14, which will be held in Athens and Kassel next year. The Ukrainian Yurii Andrukhovych translates German poets such as Rainer Maria Rilke into Ukrainian thus giving the readership there new access to the German classics. With his own literary work he familiarized German readers with the literary territory of his home country. Migration and transitional movements through Europe have always been central themes of his writing. David Lordkipanidze, an archaeologist and director of the Georgian National Museum, is networked with academics and museum strategists worldwide. He initiated numerous international collaborations, including those with renowned German cultural and educational institutions such as the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, which were accompanied by an active exchange of scientists, museum experts as well as exhibits. All three winners lived for longer periods in Germany and other parts of the world and speak excellent German.
The laudatory speeches for the winners of the 2016 Goethe Medals will be held by Friederike Fless (for David Lordkipanidze), the president of the German Archaeological Institute, the artist Eva Leitolf (for Akin Akinbiyi) and the translator Sabine Stöhr (for Yurii Andrukhovych). Together with Kunstfest Weimar on the day before the ceremony the Goethe-Institut will hold a conversation with the three awardees: On Saturday, 27 August 2016 Akin Akinbiyi, Yurii Andrukhovych and David Lordkipanidze will speak with the cultural scientist Christina von Braun, co-director the Centre of Jewish Studies Berlin-Brandenburg and vice president of the Goethe-Institut, on the topic Migration of Cultures – Cultures of Migration and the role that Germany, its language, its culture and its history play in their lives. As part of the Kunstfest Weimar, the photo exhibition Wanderungen in urbanen Zeiträumen by the Goethe Medal awardee Akin Akinbiyi will be held at Galerie Eigenheim from 20 August to 4 September 2016.
The Goethe Medal was established by the executive committee of the Goethe-Institut in 1954 and acknowledged as an official decoration by the Federal Republic of Germany in 1975. Since 2009, it has taken place in Weimar on 28 August, Goethe’s birthday.
Since it was first awarded in 1955, a total of 341 figures from 63 countries have been honoured. The awardees have included Adonis, Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Bourdieu, David Cornwell AKA John le Carré, Sir Ernst Gombrich, Lars Gustafsson, Ágnes Heller, Petros Markaris, Sir Karl Raimund Popper, Jorge Semprún, Robert Wilson, Neil MacGregor and Helen Wolff.
The award ceremony is organized in close partnership with the Klassik Stiftung Weimar and the City of Weimar. The conversation with the three awardees is being held in cooperation with Kunstfest Weimar. The photography exhibition by Akinbode Akinbiyi is being held in cooperation with the Kunstfest Weimar and the Galerie Eigenheim.