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Iranian artist Farkhondeh Shahroudi receives Exile Visual Arts Award at the Berlin Academy of Arts | 08.09.2023

Editors’ Choice

The prize, established in 2023, honours works by exiled artists.
The Exile Visual Arts Award 2023, endowed with 10,000 euros, goes to the Iranian artist Farkhondeh Shahroudi for the works “Sky is no one’s ground” and “Max Beckmann was not here”. The award ceremony will take place on 8 September 2023 during the opening of the Days of Exile. The Exile Visual Arts Award is offered by the Körber Foundation, supported by the Stiftung Exilmuseum Berlin.

Fig. above: Farkhondeh Shahroudi, „Max Beckmann war nicht hier“ (2019), Foto: Jens Ziehe

About the award winner and her works

Farkhondeh Shahroudi has lived in exile in Germany since 1990. A large part of her work reflects her artistic confrontation with revolution, war and flight. This also applies to her two award-winning works.

The work “Sky is no one’s ground” (2019) consists of a flag with appliqués and embroidery on velvet. On a pedestal, the artist uses her own body as part of the artwork in a performance and waves the flag for minutes. In doing so, she harks back to her own time as an activist in Iran in the 1970s. The performance is reminiscent of traditional Shiite rituals as well as modern revolutionary forms of protest. By applying a poem to the flag and embroidering it, Shahroudi turns it into an “anti-flag” – a poetic, de-territorialised banner that describes the experiences of flight and exile.

DEEDS NEWS - Berliner Akademie der Künste - Exile Visual Arts Award - Farkhondeh Shahroudi - Photo Wolfram Hahn
Farkhondeh Shahroudi, Foto: Wolfram Hahn

The work “Max Beckmann was not here” (2019) is of similar materiality: the title of the work is written in large letters on a banner – a reference to the German artist Max Beckmann, who fled into exile in 1937. In 2017, Shahroudi was a scholarship holder at the Villa Romana in Florence and, while researching earlier artists, discovered that Max Beckmann had also worked in this studio. She shared with him the experience of living in exile, and so began an imaginary pen friendship with Beckmann. This leads to an extensive series of drawings and the velvet banner that bears the first sentence of this confrontation with – as Shahroudi puts it – her “doppelganger”: “Max Beckmann was not here”.

DEEDS NEWS - Berliner Akademie der Künste - Exile Visual Arts Award - Farkhondeh Shahroudi - Photo Farkhondeh Shahroudi
Farkhondeh Shahroudi, „Sky is no one’s ground“ (2019), Foto: Farkhondeh Shahroudi

The jury praises the high complexity of Shahroudi’s works: “With the link between the poetically overformed flag and the expansive performance, the artist gives strong expression to her own exile experiences in ‘Sky is no one’s ground’. It symbolises rootedness and connection as well as detachment and disruption. Her work ‘Max Beckmann was not here’, with its banner from the Shiite tradition, also represents a multi-layered connection between continuity, flight and exile – both historical and contemporary. Whoever was expelled cannot be here – and yet is here through immortalisation in art.”

81 works by 52 artists were submitted for the Exile Visual Arts Award

“The Exile Visual Arts Award honours artists who continue their work despite difficult living conditions in exile in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The award aims to draw attention to their sophisticated contemporary art, in which they often address the issues of persecution, flight and exile – and thus to stimulate reflection,” says Sven Tetzlaff, Head of Democracy, Engagement, Cohesion at the Körber Foundation.

DEEDS NEWS - Exile Visual Arts Award (c) Khaled Barakeh
Key Visual Tage des Exils Berlin, „Shattered Image of Oneself“, © Khaled Barakeh

“With so many impressive works submitted, the choice was not easy. For us as the Exilmuseum Berlin Foundation, the Exile Visual Arts Award is an exciting new sensing instrument for transdisciplinary forms of expression on the subject of exile. We want to offer these an exhibition platform at our interim location ‘Werkstatt Exilmuseum’ as well as in the future Exilmuseum,” says Cornelia Vossen, curator of the Stiftung Exilmuseum Berlin.

The jury compiled a TOP5 shortlist from the 81 impressive submissions. This list includes particularly noteworthy works by other artists in addition to the award winner: Rawan Almukhtar from Iraq, Khaled Barakeh from Syria, Parastou Forouhar from Iran and an Iranian artist who remains anonymous.

DEEDS NEWS - Exile Visual Arts Award - Die Exile des Hugo Simon (c) unbekannter Künstler, Familienarchiv - Photo Patricia Breves
Veranstaltung: Die Exile des Hugo Simon, Porträtbüste Hugo Simon, 20er Jahre, © unbekannter Künstler / Familienarchiv, Foto: Patricia Breves

About the Exile Visual Arts Award

The Exile Visual Arts Award, endowed with 10,000 euros, honours works by artists who visualise essential questions in exile such as identity, belonging or foreignness. The Exile Visual Arts Award is an initiative of the Körber Foundation, supported by the Stiftung Exilmuseum Berlin. Eligible works include visual arts such as painting, graphics, drawing, sculpture, installation art, photography, new media and architecture.


Akademie der Künste
Hanseatenweg 10
10557 Berlin Tiergarten


8 September 2023
The opening begins at 18:00
Admission from 17:30.


Admission is free
Registration is not necessary.

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