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Berlin residency to examine role of censorship in activism


Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Arts Residency to examine role of historic censorship in modern-day activism

Ella Sutherland, 2019. Photo credit: Sarah Rodigari

Visual artist Ella Sutherland will travel to Germany next October, spending a year researching, networking and developing new work as recipient of the 2020/2021 Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Arts Residency.

Ella’s proposed project for the residency aims to interrogate the role of historic censorship in the development of contemporary modes of subversive communication.

“The Berlin Visual Arts Residency is an exciting opportunity for me to engage in an intensive period of professional and artistic development – allowing me to grow and consolidate my working methodology and determine new directions in my practice,” said Ella.

“Being the home to many important cultural institutions, collections and archives, Berlin offers me access to an array of valuable creative research opportunities, as well as the potential to connect with international audiences and practitioners,” she added.

During the research phase of her project, Ella will delve into archival material housed in Berlin “to trace the consequences of censorship.” Her proposal envisions three new works: a print series developed in response to historic instances of censorship in Germany; a publication of collated research material; and a sculptural installation considering the socio-political dynamic between language, identity and visibility.

The Berlin selectors were impressed by Ella’s sophisticated questioning of the politics of visual language, its relevance to important current debates and strong link to Berlin discourses.

Valeria Schulte-Fischedick, Coordinator/Curator, International Studio Programme, Künstlerhaus Bethanien said, “Ella’s reflection on the criteria and values of image production itself and her concise use of materials and techniques was highly intriguing. The jury appreciated her ability to distinguish between image production and the questioning of the idea of the iconic. Making a ‘hidden’ language in abstraction visible and also highlighting the interplay of language, typography and power, Ella´s work appears especially impactful.”

The Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Arts Residency provides a place within the Künstlerhaus Bethanien studio programme and support for an exhibition. It also includes the use of an apartment in the heart of Berlin and the stipend of $40,000 to be used for the artist’s travel, living and material costs.

The Künstlerhaus Bethanien is the home one of Europe’s largest international residency programmes for artists. Selected artists benefit from exposure to Berlin’s various art institutes, galleries and museums; and new networking and professional development opportunities to inspire and strengthen their creative practice. Creative New Zealand’s residency also helps to raise awareness of New Zealand visual arts in Berlin.

The residency runs from October 2020 to October 2021, alternating with the biennial Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer’s Residency.

Previous recipients of the Creative New Zealand Berlin Visual Arts Residency are: Biljana Popovic (2018), Oscar Enberg (2016), Greg Semu (2014), Ben Cauchi (2012), Alicia Frankovich (2010), Sara Hughes (2008), Mladen Bizumic (2006), Ronnie van Hout (2004), Michael Stevenson (2002) and Peter Robinson (2000).

Ella Sutherland Bio

Caption: Ella Sutherland, Recto Verso, installation view: Objectspace, Auckland, 2019. Photograph: Samuel Hartnett.

Ella Sutherland works across the fields of visual art, publishing and language. Her practice is grounded in her background in visual communication, involving the analysis and activation of complex systems of reading which engage the following overlapping fields: the relationship between language and social history; the evolution of technology in disseminating thought, experimental typographic methodologies and how this interacts with a conflation of the analogue and digital.

Ella utilizes text-based documentary making, print technology, publishing and installation to analyse and activate complex systems of reading and navigation within the built environment. Within this she explores the interpretive devices of gesture and narrative with a view to displacing habitual ways of understanding language, space and information.


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