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Goethe Medal winners are activists and artists

Suzanne Cords
August 28, 2022

This year's laureates of the award, which recognizes "outstanding service for the German language and for international cultural relations," are from Egypt, South Africa and India.

 Nimi Ravindran and Shiva Pathak
Nimi Ravindran and Shiva Pathak Image: Sandeep T K

Every year, the Goethe Medalhonors personalities from around the world who have made a special contribution to international cultural exchange or the teaching of the German language.

This year, the award goes to Mohamed Abla, a multimedia artist from Egypt; Tali Nates, a historian from South Africa; and the artists Nimi Ravindran and Shiva Pathak, from India.

Focus on equality, diversity, sexuality

The Sandbox Collective sees itself as a free platform for artists and students from all cultural fields, including visual arts, literature, music and design. It was founded in 2013 by the author and theater director Nimi Ravindran and the actress and cultural manager Shiva Pathak, who work with artists and arts organizations worldwide.

Politisch, feministisch, queer

The collective's focus is on gender justice, equality and sexuality. They curate, produce and organize performances and festivals.

In cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Bangalore, the collective creates free spaces for art, activism, debate and dialogue, with the goal of creating culturally vibrant communities.

Art scene's social responsibility

Mohamed Abla is convinced that artists have a social responsibility and that their lives cannot be separated from their work.

 Mohammed Abla stands against a backdrop of art
Mohammed AblaImage: Emad Abdel Hady

For decades, the versatile multimedia artist has been committed to understanding and diversity, especially in the Egyptian cultural scene, and has been an advocate for freedom of expression.

The 69-year-old is one of Egypt's few internationally known artists and manages to build cultural bridges through the medium of art.

Beyond his own award-winning work, in 2009 he opened a caricature museum in Cairo, the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa.

After the 2011 revolution, Abla was also elected to the Committee of 50 that wrote Egypt's new constitution.

Inspiration von der Straße

A place of lessons for humanity

Tali Nates was born in Israel in 1961, the child of Holocaust survivors rescued by Oskar Schindler. She has been living in South Africa since 1985.

In 2008, she founded the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre, which explores the history of genocide using case studies from the Holocaust and the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

 Tali Nates smiles and looks at the camera
Tali NatesImage: Catherine Boyd

Tali Nates contrasts memories of the Holocaust with those of the genocide in Rwanda, examining the roots of both events and asking what we can learn from them with regard to current wars and human rights issues.

For artistic freedom

"In many parts of the world, people working in the cultural field and active in civil society are under massive pressure; this is currently demonstrated in a particularly shocking way by Russia's brutal war of aggression on Ukraine," Goethe-Institut President Carola Lentz said, adding that the Goethe-Instituts around the world "stand up for human rights, freedom of expression, cultural diversity and understanding."

Erinnern für die Zukunft

The Goethe Medal is Germany's most important foreign cultural policy award. The Goethe-Instituts abroad nominate the candidates based on their significance in cultural politics and their outstanding artistic work; the prize-winners are selected by a jury of experts.

The Goethe Medal is awarded at a ceremony in Weimar on August 28, the birthday of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

The award winners are set to present their work at the Kunstfest Weimar art festival from August 26 to 28.

This article was originally written in German.

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