Home Art Goethe Institut launches prize for African artists in honour of slain director

Goethe Institut launches prize for African artists in honour of slain director


Two years after 18 people were killed in a terrorist attack in Côte d’Ivoire, a €20.000 prize is being launched in memory of Henrike Grohs, who was one of the victims.

The first recipient of the Henrike Grohs Art Award, conceived by the Goethe-Institut and the Grohs family, will be announced on 13 March in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

“The Henrike Grohs Art Award is a biennial award dedicated to artists living and working in Africa. Yet the message sent goes far beyond the continent. It is a universal address, a call for reflection and action”, said the jury members Koyo Kouoh (Artistic Director, RAW Material Company, Dakar), Laurence Bonvin (artist and representative of the Grohs family, Berlin), Raphael Chikukwa (Chief Curator, National Gallery of Zimbabwe, Harare) and Simon Njami (Curator, Paris).

The prize recognises the lifetime achievements of the former Head of the Goethe- Institut in Abidjan, Henrike Grohs, who was killed on 13 March 2016 in a terrorist attack in Grand-Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire.

The award intends to continue her special commitment to support artists in Africa and make a contribution towards international dialogue.

“Henrike Grohs truly embodied the principles and values of international cultural exchange as they are understood by the Goethe-Institut”, said its Secretary General Johannes Ebert.

The Grohs family stated that her “tireless engagement for cultural exchange will live on” through the award which “supports outstanding artists from the African continent, whose work enables new connections and encounters.”

The prize will be awarded biennially to an artist or an arts collective practicing in the field of visual arts. Artistic quality is the most important criteria for the award. Collaborative partnership, imparting knowledge to other artists and social engagement are decisive elements for recognition. A shortlist of three candidates will be announced on 26 February.

Grohs died on 13 March 2016 in a terrorist attack in Côte d’Ivoire along with seventeen other people. She studied ethnology and was Head of the Goethe-Institut in Abidjan from 2013 to her death.

She co-founded the project “Next – Intercultural Projects” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin. Between 2002 and 2009, she worked as Project Manager in the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra’s Education programme. In 2009, she was appointed Advisor on Culture and Development at the Goethe-Institut in South Africa. Grohs was 51 at the time of her passing.